Saturday, February 28, 2009
Art appreciation 'a gender issue'
Published: 2009/02/24 01:43:15 GMT
When it comes to appreciating art, men and women really do think differently, research shows.
While women use both sides of their brain, men only use the right half to judge if a piece of work is beautiful, a team of scientists discovered.
This may reflect the different ways men and women's minds have evolved - men tend to focus on the big picture while women take in "local" details too.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports the findings.
Professor Francisco Ayala, from the University of California Irvine, and colleagues asked 10 men and 10 women to judge the beauty of artists paintings and photographs of urban and rural landscapes.
“ We know for sure that there are differences between the male and female brain ” Professor Friedermann Pulvermuller, an expert in brain studies at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit.
At the same time, the researchers measured the magnetic fields produced by electrical activity in the brains of the volunteers.
This revealed that both men and women were using a part of the brain associated with spatial awareness, called the parietal lobe. However, while women used both right and left sides, men used only the right parietal lobe.
The researchers suggest that this is because women are contextualising the information and thinking more about the details of what they are seeing, assessing the position of objects according broad categories, such as "above" or "below", or "left" or "right".
The men, they say, are focussing on the overall image using a more precise form of mental mapping.
And they say the differences may have evolved millions of years ago when early humans became hunter gatherers.
Hunting, traditionally done by men, required a "co-ordinating" ability to track animals accurately while on the move. A "categorical" spatial awareness was better suited to foraging for fruit, roots or berries, a job mainly carried out by women.
"Women tend to be more aware than men of objects around them, including those that seem irrelevant to the current task, whereas men out-perform women in navigation tasks," the scientists told PNAS.
"Men tend to solve navigation tasks by using orientation-based strategies involving distance concepts and cardinal directions, whereas women tend to base their activities on remembering the location of landmarks and relative directions, such as 'left from', or 'to the right of'."
The different ways men and women mapped the world appeared to influence their perception of beauty, they believe.
Professor Friedermann Pulvermuller, an expert in brain studies at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, said: "This is an interesting study. We know for sure that there are differences between the male and female brain. The connections between the two hemispheres is better developed in females generally.
"So the findings are in agreement with what we know, but we would need more work before we could make any firm conclusions."
Men and Women
THEY DID. And not only that, the Governor, now head of Homeland Security, should be in the forefront of her advicacy of civil liberties given her personal background, yet she is pushing this as hard as .... Cheney might. In fact, that same crowd of cowards who used to screech about what Bush was doing - will ignore this altogether, they will not be saying much ... more like sheep. bah bah bah
Radio chip coming soon to your driver's license?Homeland Security seeks next-generation REAL ID
Posted: February 28, 200912:25 am Eastern
By Bob Unruh© 2009 WorldNetDaily
Privacy advocates are issuing warnings about a new radio chip plan that ultimately could provide electronic identification for every adult in the U.S. and allow agents to compile attendance lists at anti-government rallies simply by walking through the assembly.
The proposal, which has earned the support of Janet Napolitano, the newly chosen chief of the Department of Homeland Security, would embed radio chips in driver's licenses, or "enhanced driver's licenses."
"Enhanced driver's licenses give confidence that the person holding the card is the person who is supposed to be holding the card, and it's less elaborate than REAL ID," Napolitano said in a Washington Times report.
REAL ID is a plan for a federal identification system standardized across the nation that so alarmed governors many states have adopted formal plans to oppose it. However, a privacy advocate today told WND that the EDLs are many times worse.
[To read the rest of the article, click on the title link]
Girl, 9, to abort twins
From correspondents in Sao Paulo
March 01, 2009 04:00am
A NINE-year-old girl pregnant after years of alleged sexual abuse by her stepfather is likely to abort twins she is carrying in a case that has shocked Brazil, reports in Sao Paulo said.
The Brazilian girl, who was not identified because she is a minor, was found to be four months pregnant after being taken to hospital suffering stomach pains, the news websites G1, pe360graus and the Diario de Pernambuco reported.
She was being cared for by a medical and psychological team in the Maternal-Child Institude in the northern city of Recife, close to her hometown of Alagoinha in Pernambuco state, they said.
"We don't know if she will develop the pregnancy up to the end because of the structure of her body. It is a big risk for her,'' the doctor who confirmed her pregnancy before she was taken to the institute, Jose Severiano Cavalcanti, told the Diario de Pernambuco.
"She doesn't have a pelvis able to support a gestation of twins,'' he said.
Abortion is illegal in Brazil except in cases of rape or if the woman's health is in danger.
The institute in Recife was unable to immediately confirm information about the case.
According to police accounts reported in the media, the 23-year-old stepfather was believed to have abused the girl since she was aged six, paying her one Brazilian real (about 77 Australian cents) for each sexual relation.
He also allegedly abused the girl's physically handicapped 14-year-old sister.
He was arrested on Thursday as he attempted to flee to another region in Brazil, and was being kept in protective custody.
If I have replaced several water fixtures and use 10-15% less, rarely water my grass (what I have of it), and if all the schools have changed to waterless urinals 9save 40,000 gallons per year each - they say - I have to ask, why, if we are saving millions of gallons, are we still running out, if - the water issue is similar to last year and the year before, why are we not doing better than last year and the year before PLUS we do have more water than last year due to the snowfall and rains this year ... so where is all the water going!!!
I only ask it half seriously because I know where it is going and that is the issue never discussed. Instead, we call it a drought and an emergency and ... and we ignore the larger issue.
Schwarzenegger declares Calif. drought emergency
By SAMANTHA YOUNG –
February 27, 2009
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Friday because of three years of below-average rain and snowfall in California, a step that urges urban water agencies to reduce water use by 20 percent.
"This drought is having a devastating impact on our people, our communities, our economy and our environment, making today's action absolutely necessary," the Republican governor said in his statement.
Mandatory rationing is an option if the declaration and other measures are insufficient.
The drought has forced farmers to fallow their fields, put thousands of agricultural workers out of work and led to conservation measures in cities throughout the state, which is the nation's top agricultural producer.
Agriculture losses could reach $2.8 billion this year and cost 95,000 jobs, said Lester Snow, the state water director.
State agencies must now provide assistance for affected communities and businesses and the Department of Water Resources must protect supplies, all accompanied by a statewide conservation campaign.
Three dry winters have left California's state- and federally operated reservoirs at their lowest levels since 1992.
Federal water managers announced last week that they would not deliver any water this year to thousands of California farms, although that could change if conditions improve. The state has said it probably would deliver just 15 percent of the water contractors have requested this year.
Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought in June but stopped short of calling a state of emergency. His 2008 executive order directed the state Department of Water Resources to speed water transfers to areas with the worst shortages and help local water districts with conservation efforts.
Over the last few weeks, storms have helped bring the seasons' rain totals to 87 percent of average, but the Sierra snowpack remains at 78 percent of normal for this time of year. State hydrologists say the snowpack must reach between 120 to 130 percent of normal to make up for the two previous dry winters and replenish California's key reservoirs.
Court decisions intended to protect threatened fish species also have forced a significant cutback in pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta, the heart of the state's delivery system.
The governor, farmers and lawmakers have argued for years that California must upgrade its decades-old water supply and delivery system and build new reservoirs.
"The situation is extremely dire," said Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, adding that the governor's action Friday "underscores the urgency of serving the long-term structural problems."
The state delivers water to more than 25 million Californians and more than 750,000 acres of farmland.
Schwarzenegger's order leaves the door open for more severe restrictions later. Additional measures can include mandatory water rationing and water reductions if there is no improvement in water reserves and residents fail to conserve on their own.
At least 25 water agencies throughout the state already have imposed mandatory restrictions, while 66 others have voluntary measures in place.
The state prefers such local efforts so it does not have to call for statewide rationing, Snow said.
The federal government on Thursday created a drought task force to provide farmers technical assistance in managing existing water supplies. Farmers also could be eligible for federally-backed emergency loans.
Almond farmer Shawn Coburn of Mendota said the emergency declaration comes too late for many growers who already are halfway through the season. Some farmers didn't bring in bees to pollinate, while others sprayed their orchards with chemicals that keep nuts from forming.
"It's too late," he said. "It's going to sound horrible coming from a farmer because you never turn down help, but come on, this thing is over with."
So go ahead, when you're caught doodling - just say you are improving your memory.
Take Note: Doodling Can Help Memory
By HealthDay - Fri Feb 27, 8:48 PM PST
FRIDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- You might look like you're not paying attention when you doodle, but science says otherwise
Researchers in the United Kingdom found that test subjects who doodled while listening to a recorded message had a 29 percent better recall of the message's details than those who didn't doodle. The findings were published in Applied Cognitive Psychology.
"If someone is doing a boring task, like listening to a dull telephone conversation, they may start to daydream," study researcher Professor Jackie Andrade, of the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth, said in a news release issued by the journal's publisher. "Daydreaming distracts them from the task, resulting in poorer performance. A simple task, like doodling, may be sufficient to stop daydreaming without affecting performance on the main task."
For the experiment, a two-and-a-half minute listing of several people's names and places was played for test subjects, who were charged with writing down only the names of the people said to be attending a party.
During the recording, half the participants were asked to simultaneously shade in shapes on a piece of paper without attention to neatness. Participants were not told they were taking part in a memory test.
When the recording ended, all were asked for the eight names of those attending the party as well as eight place names mentioned in the audio. Those asked to doodle wrote down, on average, 7.5 names and places, while those who didn't doodle listed only 5.8.
Obama Declares War on Investors, Entrepreneurs, Businesses, And More
Posted By: Larry Kudlow Anchor
27 Feb 2009 04:39 PM ET
Let me be very clear on the economics of President Obama’s State of the Union speech and his budget.
He is declaring war on investors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, large corporations, and private-equity and venture-capital funds.
That is the meaning of his anti-growth tax-hike proposals, which make absolutely no sense at all — either for this recession or from the standpoint of expanding our economy’s long-run potential to grow.
Raising the marginal tax rate on successful earners, capital, dividends, and all the private funds is a function of Obama’s left-wing social vision, and a repudiation of his economic-recovery statements. Ditto for his sweeping government-planning-and-spending program, which will wind up raising federal outlays as a share of GDP to at least 30 percent, if not more, over the next 10 years.
This is nearly double the government-spending low-point reached during the late 1990s by the Gingrich Congress and the Clinton administration. While not quite as high as spending levels in Western Europe, we regrettably will be gaining on this statist-planning approach.
Study after study over the past several decades has shown how countries that spend more produce less, while nations that tax less produce more. Obama is doing it wrong on both counts.
And as far as middle-class tax cuts are concerned, Obama’s cap-and-trade program will be a huge across-the-board tax increase on blue-collar workers, including unionized workers. Industrial production is plunging, but new carbon taxes will prevent production from ever recovering. While the country wants more fuel and power, cap-and-trade will deliver less.
The tax hikes will generate lower growth and fewer revenues. Yes, the economy will recover. But Obama’s rosy scenario of 4 percent recovery growth in the out years of his budget is not likely to occur. The combination of easy money from the Fed and below-potential economic growth is a prescription for stagflation. That’s one of the messages of the falling stock market.
[The economy will recover and would recover regardless of what Obama did, it is simply a cycle, and while administrations slow recovery or speed it up, recovery happens.]
Essentially, the Obama economic policies represent a major Democratic party relapse into Great Society social spending and taxing. It is a return to the LBJ/Nixon era, and a move away from the Reagan/Clinton period. House Republicans, fortunately, are 90 days sober, as they are putting up a valiant fight to stop the big-government onslaught and move the GOP back to first principles.
Noteworthy up here on Wall Street, a great many Obama supporters — especially hedge-fund types who voted for “change” — are becoming disillusioned with the performances of Obama and Treasury man Geithner.
There is a growing sense of buyer’s remorse.
Well then, do conservatives dare say: We told you so?
Friday, February 27, 2009
FEBRUARY 27, 2009, 11:20 A.M. ET
The Obama Revolution
Paid for by the people.
In the closing weeks of last year's election campaign, we wrote that Democrats had in mind the most sweeping expansion of government in decades. Liberals clucked, but it turns out even we've been outbid. With yesterday's fiscal 2010 budget proposal, President Obama is attempting not merely to expand the role of the federal government but to put it in such a dominant position that its power can never be rolled back.
The first point to understand is the sheer magnitude of federal spending built into this proposal. As the nearby chart shows, federal outlays will soar in fiscal 2009 to $4 trillion, or 27.7% of GDP, from $3 trillion or 21% of GDP in 2008, and 20% in 2007. This is higher as a share of the economy than any year since 1945, when the country was still mobilized for World War II. It is more spending by far than during the Vietnam War, or during the recessions of 1974-75 or 1981-82.
But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Mr. Obama is right that this spending is needed now to "jump-start" an economic recovery. Though the budget predicts that the economy will recover in 2010, spending will still be 24.1% of GDP that year, and the budget proposes that spending will remain higher than 22% for the entire next decade even as the defense budget steadily declines. All Presidential budgets predict spending will decline in the "out years," if only to give the illusion of spending restraint. Mr. Obama tries the same trick, but he is proposing so many new and expanded nondefense programs that his budgeteers can't get anywhere close even to Jimmy Carter spending levels.
These columns focus on spending, rather than deficits, because Milton Friedman taught us that spending represents the real future burden on taxpayers. Nonetheless, the 2009 budget deficit is estimated to be an eye-popping 12.7% of GDP, which once again dwarfs anything we've seen in the postwar era. The White House blueprint predicts that this will fall back down to 3.5% as soon as 2012, but this is based on assumptions about Washington that aren't going to happen.
For example, Mr. Obama's budget assumes that nearly all of the new stimulus spending will be temporary -- a fantasy. He also proposes to eliminate farm subsidies for those with annual sales of more than $500,000. This is a great idea, and long overdue. But has the President checked with Senators Kent Conrad (North Dakota) or Chuck Grassley (Iowa)? We hope we're wrong, but a White House that showed no interest in restraining Congress during the recent stimulus bacchanal isn't likely to stand athwart history to stop the agribusiness lobby.
The falling deficit also assumes the largest tax increase in U.S. history, starting in 2011 with the repeal of the Bush tax rates on incomes higher than $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples. The White House says this will yield upwards of $1 trillion, if you choose to believe that tax rates don't affect taxpayer behavior.
In the real world, two of every three tax filers who fall into this income category are small business owners or investors, who are certainly capable of finding ways to invest that allow them to declare less taxable income. The real impact of this looming tax increase will be to cast further uncertainty over economic decisions and either slow or postpone the recovery. Ditto for the estimated $646 billion from a new cap-and-trade tax, which no one wants to call a tax but would give the political class vast new leverage over the private economy. (See here.)
Then there is Mr. Obama's plan for national health care. The White House has put a $634 billion place holder in the budget to pay for covering tens of millions of uninsured Americans with government subsidized coverage. But even advocates of this government plan say the cost will be closer to $1 trillion over 10 years, and probably much more. Meanwhile, the President is promising to reform entitlements, but his budget proposes a net increase of about $1 trillion in Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlements.
The biggest illusion in this budget may be its optimistic economic forecast. The White House assumes that the economy will decline by only 1.2% this year, before growing by 3.2% next year. This assumes the recovery will begin later this year and gather steam quickly to return to normal levels of growth. By 2010 to 2013, the budget adds, the economy will be cooking by an average of 4% a year -- which is also how it conjures up magical deficit reduction.
This growth is a lovely thought, but how? The only impetus for growth in this budget comes from the government spending more money that it is taking out of the job-producing private economy. With $1 trillion of new entitlements, $1.4 trillion in new taxes, and $5 trillion in new debt, America's entrepreneurs aren't getting any help soon from Washington.
Democrats will want to rush all of this into law this year while Mr. Obama retains his honeymoon aura and they can blame the recession on George W. Bush. But Americans are only beginning to understand the magnitude of Mr. Obama's ambitions, and how much of their own income will be required to fulfill them. Republicans have an obligation to insist on a long and considerable debate on all of this, lest Americans discover in a year or two that they live in a very different country.
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, February 27, 2009
(02-26) 20:00 PST San Francisco -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is sending strong signals that President Obama - who as a candidate said states should be allowed to make their own rules on medical marijuana - will end raids on pot dispensaries in California.
Thu Feb 26, 11:52 am ET
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Police say a teenager who soaked her hair in gasoline to try to kill head lice was severely burned when the gas fumes ignited and set her head ablaze.
Eighteen-year-old Jessica Brooks was in serious condition Thursday at the burn unit at University Hospital in Louisville, Ky. She was burned Sunday night at her apartment in Evansville, Ind.
Police said Brooks was in her bathroom letting her hair soak in gasoline just before a pilot light from a water heater ignited the gas fumes and her hair.
Investigator Richard Howard said Brooks suffered second- and third-degree burns over more than half of her body.
Brooks was taking high school night classes in hopes of graduating this year.
I am sorry to say, Obama didn't, on his first day in office sign the order to end the war in Iraq, neither did he sign an order removing ALL combat troops from Iraq. Now they will be around for a couple more years - IN FACT, pay attention now, I will go slow - THEY WILL REMAIN WHERE THEY ARE UNTIL THE DATE BUSH SET with the Iraqi government. Same policy. Different president. I know, you must be depressed, even considering yoga to work off your stress, maybe taking up smoking (secretly) ... and EVEN MORE INTERESTING ... scroll down until you get to the bolded part in purple!!! They could be there LONGER if the Iraqi government asks and conditions get worse.
You must be having apoplectic fits every day - he isn't keeping his WORD for CHANGE - he isn't ending the war that has caused you to obsess for six years.
Sorry. Take a xanax, it will help a bit.
Obama to extend Iraq withdrawal timetable; 50,000 troops to stay
Steven Thomma McClatchy Newspapers
February 27, 2009 02:26:09 PM
WASHINGTON — Amid complaints from has own party that he's moving too slowly to end the war in Iraq, President Barack Obama will announce Friday that U.S. combat troops will be withdrawn by Aug. 31, 2010, but that as many as 50,000 Marines and soldiers would remain until the end of 2011.
Obama will announce his plans during a visit with troops at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he'll also visit with Marines who are being deployed to Afghanistan, senior administration officials said.
As he moves to draw down the war in Iraq after six years and more than 4,200 U.S. dead, he's also moving to escalate the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.
The 18-month timetable for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq is two months longer than he promised during his campaign. Aides who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak frankly said that military commanders wanted the extra time. "The president found that compelling," said one senior administration official.
The pace of the drawdown will be left to commanders and determined by events on the ground as well as politics in Washington. Although U.S. and Iraqi casualties have dropped sharply, and recent provincial elections were held without major incidents, it's not clear whether Iraq's rival factions and their militias have abandoned violence or are merely biding their time.
A key factor in the pace of the U.S. drawdown will be making sure that there are sufficient U.S. forces in Iraq to assure that national elections scheduled for December are peaceful, officials said. Another will be the speed with which Iraqi military and security forces gain the ability to maintain order without American help.
Under Obama's plan, a force of between 35,000 and 50,000 U.S. troops would remain in Iraq after Aug. 31, 2010, to train, equip and advise Iraqi forces, help protect withdrawing forces and work on counterterrorism. They'd remain until Dec. 31, 2011, the date on which the Bush administration agreed to withdraw all troops under a pact with Iraq.
That number, too, could depend on conditions in Iraq and on the need for additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have made significant gains, and where national elections also are scheduled.
The plan to leave as many as 50,000 troops in Iraq after August 2010 upset several top Democrats in Congress, who want far fewer troops left after the August date.
"I'm happy to listen to the secretary of defense and the president, but when they talk about 50,000, that's a little higher number than I had anticipated," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., before meeting with Obama at the White House.
Obama started reviewing options in mid-December, aides said, then "really began in earnest" after taking office. He met on Jan. 21 with top commanders, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of the U.S. Central Command; and Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Suddenly the men and women of our Armed Serves have done great jobs, heroic, and we have done a great deed for the Iraqis.
What a difference a year makes ....
In full: President Obama's remarks before troops at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina as prepared for delivery
guardian.co.uk, Friday 27 February 2009 17.36 GMT
Good morning Marines. Good morning Camp Lejeune. Good morning Jacksonville. Thank you for that outstanding welcome. I want to thank Lieutenant General Hejlik for hosting me here today.
I also want to acknowledge all of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. That includes the Camp Lejeune marines now serving with – or soon joining – the second marine expeditionary force in Iraq; those with special purpose marine air ground task force in Afghanistan; and those among the 8,000 marines who are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. We have you in our prayers. We pay tribute to your service. We thank you and your families for all that you do for America. And I want all of you to know that there is no higher honor or greater responsibility than serving as your commander-in-chief.
I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge Ryan Crocker, who recently completed his service as our ambassador to Iraq. Throughout his career, Ryan always took on the toughest assignments. He is an example of the very best that this nation has to offer, and we owe him a great debt of gratitude. He carried on his work with an extraordinary degree of cooperation with two of our finest generals – General David Petraeus, and General Ray Odierno – who will be critical in carrying forward the strategy that I will outline today.
Next month will mark the sixth anniversary of the war in Iraq. By any measure, this has already been a long war. For the men and women of America's armed forces – and for your families – this war has been one of the most extraordinary chapters of service in the history of our nation. You have endured tour after tour after tour of duty. You have known the dangers of combat and the lonely distance of loved ones. You have fought against tyranny and disorder. You have bled for your best friends and for unknown Iraqis. And you have borne an enormous burden for your fellow citizens, while extending a precious opportunity to the people of Iraq. Under tough circumstances, the men and women of the United States military have served with honour, and succeeded beyond any expectation.
[To read the rest of the lecture, click on the title link]
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Leon steps in it again.
A Vice President who doesn't know government websites, confuses details, makes up facts. A CIA director who insults allies ...
Argentina calls CIA comment "irresponsible"
Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:05am IST
BUENOS AIRES, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Argentina on Thursday blasted the head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency for saying the country, along with Ecuador and Venezuela, could be pushed into instability by the global economic crisis.
Lumping Argentina together with Ecuador and Venezuela, both led by leftist anti-Washington firebrands, raises concern in this country, where center-left President Cristina Kirchner is trying to keep the economy from stagnating.
Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana called the comments made on Wednesday by CIA Director Leon Panetta "unfounded and irresponsible, especially from an agency that has a sad history of meddling in the affairs of countries in the region."
Taiana said he will meet on Friday with U.S. Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne to demand an explanation.
(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by John O'Callaghan)
(June 1999, Florida) Okeechobee County investigators believe the death of Bryan, 28, was related to his wife's habit of stomping rabbits and mice for sexual pleasure. Stephanie, 29, was sentenced to two years of probation and community service for the death of her husband Bryan, who was found in a pit with a board over his body, crushed beneath the rear wheel of his sports utility vehicle.
Stephanie did not deny that she drove over her husband, but in her own defence she released tapes to the police showing her stomping small mammals to death. She was identified by a cryptic tattoo on her lower leg.
Such "crush" videos are sold to people who derive sexual pleasure from the sight of death, especially at the hands of a woman. "It was abhorrent and cruel," said Assistant State Attorney Bernard Romero. "My first instinct was to seek the maximum penalty."
But Stephanie contended that she was an unwilling participant in the videos, and had been beaten many times by her husband prior to his bizarre death. Stephanie was charged in July with two counts of felony animal cruelty, which were later reduced to misdemeanors.
As for her husband, his death under the wheels of his car was presumably a loving sex act between consenting adults. But a man who would lie in a special pit while a woman he groomed for "crush" videos drove over him, shouldn't be surprised when he winds up holding a Darwin Award.
[She is out and about, crushing things!! She was out by 2001.]
Calderon is a fool, or pretending to be a fool.
More deaths along the Mexican border cities from Texas to California than in the entire United States. More grisly deaths in six months - beheadings, executions, burned bodies than in ten years of US homicides. Where federales are used to assist drug dealers in crossing the border by their attacks on US Border Agents. Where the drug dealers are shooting at and attacking US Border Agents ... where the cities on the border have been lost to crime. The Mayor of one city moved his family to the US for protection.
What Calderon could do is to send in the Army, not the federales ... to the cities along the border. Man the border, control the roads, handle law enforcement - and do this for the next year. Then maybe you would have control back (except for Southern Mexico where your control is also questionable).
Listening to a corrupt, bribed, incompetent asshole explain that the cesspool he leads is not a lost and failed state is a bit like believing in fairies and leprechauns.
The people of Mexico deserve leadership that LEADS them out of the cesspool they have been mired in for over 100 years and leads them forward economically and politically.
AP: Mexican President rejects 'failed state' label
Feb 26, 2009 1:52 PM
TRACI CARL, The Associated Press
MEXICO CITY -
President Felipe Calderon denies that Mexico is a failed state.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, he rejected U.S. government reports that questioned whether the Mexican government is losing control of its territory to drug cartels.
Calderon said his government has not "lost any part - any single part - of the Mexican territory" to organized crime, and called it "absolutely false" to label Mexico a failed state.
Calderon also told the AP that the U.S. government should do more to fight corruption north of the border.
U.S. government reports have recently sounded the alarm on rising violence in Mexico. One said Mexico and Pakistan were at risk of becoming failed states if the violence continues.
Earlier Thursday, Mexico's top prosecutor said that more than 1,000 people have been killed in drug violence so far this year, but that he believes the worst is nearly over.
Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora also told the AP that 6,290 people were killed last year - the most specific government accounting yet of drug killings that doubled the 2007 toll.
Medina Mora said the world's most powerful drug cartels are "melting down" as they engage in turf wars and fight off a nationwide crackdown.
The government doesn't expect to stop drug trafficking, but hopes to make it so difficult that smugglers no longer use Mexico as their conduit to the United States.
"We want to raise the opportunity cost of our country as a route of choice," Medina Mora said.
He applauded cross-border efforts that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said culminated this week with the arrests of 755 Sinaloa cartel members and seizure of $59 million in criminal proceeds in the United States. But he called for more U.S. prosecutions of people who sell weapons illegally to the cartels, and stronger efforts to stop drug profits from flowing south.
Mexico has spent $6.5 billion over the last two years in this fight, on top of its normal public security budget, but he said that falls short of the $10 billion Mexican drug gangs bring in annually.
"I believe we are reaching the peak," Medina Mora said, but added that the government won't achieve its objective "until Mexican citizens feel they have achieved tranquility."
Even as he spoke, five more suspected drug killings were announced by authorities in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero. The men were shot Wednesday night.
While violence in Tijuana is down sharply from last year, killings have spiked in the largest border city, Ciudad Juarez. The city of 1.3 million across from El Paso, Texas, is now the most worrisome of a number of hotspots, Medina Mora said.
"But this is not reflecting the power of these groups," he said. "It is reflecting how they are melting down."
About 90 percent of the dead were suspected drug traffickers, and most of the rest were police and soldiers, Medina Mora said. Innocents caught in the crossfire account for about 4 percent of the toll, he estimated.
Medina Mora also said that since the crackdown began in 2006, the price of cocaine has shot up by 100 percent in the United States, while its purity has dropped by 35 percent. And he said the government crippled Mexico's methamphetamine trade by banning precursor chemicals.
"The raw material is not here anymore" he said.
By John Lippert and Jim Efstathiou Jr.
Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- On a cloudless December day in the Nevada desert, workers in white hard hats descend into a 30- foot-wide shaft next to Lake Mead.
As they’ve been doing since June, they’ll blast and dig straight down into the limestone surrounding the reservoir that supplies 90 percent of Las Vegas’s water. In September, when they hit 600 feet, they’ll turn and burrow for 3 miles, laying a new pipe as they go.
The crew is in a hurry. They’re battling the worst 10-year drought in recorded history along the Colorado River, which feeds the 110-mile-long reservoir. Since 1999, Lake Mead has dropped about 1 percent a year. By 2012, the lake’s surface could fall below the existing pipe that delivers 40 percent of the city’s water.
As Las Vegas’s economy worsens, the workers are also racing against a recession that threatens the ability to sell $500 million in bonds so they can complete the job.
Patricia Mulroy, manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, is the general in this region’s war to stem a water emergency that’s playing out worldwide. It’s the biggest battle of her 31-year career.
‘We’ve Tried Everything’
“We’ve tried everything,” says Mulroy, 56, who made no secret of her desire to become secretary of the U.S. Interior Department before President Barack Obama picked U.S. Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado in December.
“The way you look at water has to fundamentally change,” adds Mulroy, who, after 20 years of running the authority, said in January she’s ready to start thinking about looking for a new job, declining to say where.
Across the planet, people like Mulroy are struggling to solve the next global crisis.
From 2500 B.C., when King Urlama of Lagash diverted water in the Tigris and Euphrates Valley in a border dispute with nearby Umma, to 1924, when Owens Valley, California, farmers blew up part of the aqueduct that served a parched Los Angeles, societies have bargained, fought and rearranged geographies to get the water they need.
Mulroy started her push with conservation. She’s paying homeowners $1.50 a square foot (0.09 square meter) to replace lawns with gravel and asking golf courses to dig up turf. That helped cut Las Vegas’s water use by 19.4 percent in the seven years ended in 2008, even as the metropolitan area added 482,000 people, bringing the total to 2 million. It wasn’t enough.
So she’s planning a $3.5 billion, 327-mile (525-kilometer) underground pipeline to tap aquifers beneath cattle-raising valleys northeast of the city. She’s even suggested refashioning the plumbing of the entire continent, Paul Bunyan style, by diverting floodwaters from the Mississippi River west toward the Rocky Mountains.
If Mulroy’s ideas are extreme, one reason is that the planet’s most essential resource doesn’t work like other commodities.
There’s no global marketplace for water. Deals for property, wells and water rights, such as the ones Mulroy must negotiate to build the pipeline, are done piecemeal. As the world grows needier, neither governments nor companies nor investors have figured out an effective and sustainable response.
“We have 19th-century ways of utilizing water and 21st- century needs,” says Brad Udall, director of Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Water upheavals are intensifying because the population is growing fastest in places where fresh water is either scarce or polluted. Dry areas are becoming drier and wet areas wetter as the oceans and atmosphere warm. Economic roadblocks, such as the global credit crunch and its effects on Mulroy’s attempts to sell bonds, multiply during a recession.
Yet local governments that control water face unyielding pressure from constituents to keep the price low, regardless of cost. Agricultural interests, commercial developers and the housing industry clash over dwindling supplies. Companies, burdened by slowing profits, will be forced to move from dry areas such as the American Southwest, Udall says.
“Water is going to be more important than oil in the next 20 years,” says Dipak Jain, dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who studies why corporations locate where they do.
No Cheap Water
Even before the now decade-long drought began punishing Las Vegas, people used more than 75 percent of the water in northern Africa and western Asia that they could get their hands on in 2000, according to the United Nations.
In 2002, 8 percent of the world suffered chronic shortages. By 2050, 40 percent of the projected world population, or about 4 billion people, will lack adequate water as entire regions turn dry, the UN predicts.
“We can no longer assume that cheap water is available,” says Peter Gleick, editor of The World’s Water 2008-2009 (Island Press, 2009). “We have to start living within our means.”
Over the Sierra Mountains from Las Vegas, Shasta Lake, California’s biggest reservoir, is less than a third full because melting snow that fed it for six decades is dwindling. A winter as dry as the previous two may mean rationing for 18 million people in Southern California this year, says Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District.
Across the Pacific Ocean, wildfires fueled by a 10-year drought and fanned by 60-mile-per-hour winds around Melbourne killed more than 200 people in February.
In Asia, developing giants are battling pollution as their populations grow. China, home to 21 percent of the world’s people last year, has just 7 percent of the water. Nine in 10 Chinese-city groundwater systems are fouled by industrial toxins, pesticides and human waste, says Maude Barlow, the first senior adviser on water to the UN and author of “Blue Covenant” (New Press, 2007).
In India, with 1.2 billion people, three-quarters of the surface water is contaminated, that country’s government said in September.
In the Mideast, where the Dead Sea is dropping 3 feet (1 meter) a year, Israel, Jordan and Syria are diverting water upstream from the Jordan River. That’s adding another source of discord to an already volatile region.
‘Gambling, Gluttony and Girls’
“There’s a growing risk of conflict over water shared by nations, ethnic groups or economic interests,” Gleick says.
Las Vegas, an adult-entertainment haven carved into the Mojave Desert, may not draw much sympathy as a poster child for water emergencies.
For decades, new residents imported their cravings for lawns, sprinklers, pools and golf courses to a region that receives 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain a year, about 1/10 of what Chicago enjoys. Casinos and hotels with water slides and river rides sucked up limited groundwater.
Until the real estate meltdown, Nevada was the fastest- growing U.S. market, with a 33 percent surge in new homes from 2000 to ‘07.
Now the city is getting a dose of reality, says Cecil Garland, a rancher in neighboring Utah who opposes Mulroy’s groundwater pipeline.
“Las Vegas is a place of gambling, gluttony and girls,” Garland, 83, says.
He says there’s no extra water along the proposed route, which travels through valleys green with 3-foot-tall shrubs called greasewood. If pumping kills the greasewood, dust storms that plague his town of Callao would soar 5,000 feet into the sky, he says.
“We live in one of the driest areas of the driest part of the U.S.,” Garland says. “How in the world can anybody with reason or common sense think they can pump water in the amount they’re talking about and leave the integrity of the valley in place?”
Mulroy says Nevada’s resorts use 3 percent of the state’s water compared with 90 percent going for farms and ranches.
For the past two decades, Mulroy, a lifelong government employee whose business attire tends toward pantsuits with the collar of her blouses pointed up behind her neck, has wrestled with the competing truths that dog all water managers: There’s only so much to go around, somebody has already claimed most of it, and citizens and companies keep demanding more.
“People view water as a human right and expect it to be virtually free,” says Michael LoCascio at Boston-based Lux Research Inc., which analyzes water issues. “Governments respond to that, and you end up with inefficiency.”
Without price-setting markets, water that cost 33 cents a cubic meter for the first 15 cubic meters delivered to homes in Memphis, Tennessee, in June 2007 was $3.01 in Atlanta and 57 cents in Las Vegas.
That’s cheap compared with Copenhagen, where the same amount that month was $7.71 per cubic meter, Gleick says.
Robert Glennon, a University of Arizona law professor, says governments must provide enough water for human survival. Beyond that, only freely functioning markets can allot it to people who need it most, he says.
Fast-growing cities should buy from farmers who use water on marginal land, says Glennon, author of “Unquenchable” (Island Press, 2009). That would cut inefficiency caused by irrigating deserts, such as those around Las Vegas, to raise alfalfa or beef, he says.
Worldwide, about 60 percent of fresh water goes to irrigate crops through flooding, losing 70 percent of the moisture to evaporation, Lux Research says.
The rudiments of water markets are cropping up across the American West.
In 2005, after 19 years of negotiations, Los Angeles’s Metropolitan Water District signed a 35-year “dry year option” with the Palo Verde Irrigation District south of Las Vegas in California. Los Angeles pays 7,000 farmers to leave land fallow during droughts and ship their water to city residents. The city gives a one-time payment of $3,170 an acre (0.4 hectare) to farmers who sign up and then $630 per year for every acre not farmed.
Companies and investors that see moneymaking opportunities in strategies to quench the world’s thirst may draw lessons from corporations that have tried.
In October, General Electric Co. named the third head of its water unit in three years. GE had paid $3.8 billion to buy several treatment and filtration companies, including Watertown, Massachusetts-based Ionics Inc., which makes reverse-osmosis membranes for purifying salt water.
Last year, GE opened a $250 million desalination plant, Africa’s largest, with state-owned Algerian Energy Co. GE had hoped to profit from its newly acquired water technologies with the backing of its General Electric Capital Corp. financing arm, says Jeffrey Fulgham, chief marketing officer for the Trevose, Pennsylvania-based unit. Instead, GE wound up footing a lot of the building work for the plant, he says.
“At the end of these big hardware deals, there isn’t much profit,” says Fulgham, who adds that GE now focuses on water technology and avoids construction.
Pure Cycle Corp., which buys and transports water for housing developments near Denver, seemed to have scored a windfall. Starting in 1976, it paid $110 million for water rights valued at $4 billion last year, Chief Executive Officer Mark Harding says. Yet shares in the Thornton, Colorado, company tumbled by 47 percent during the six months ended on Feb. 25. to trade at $3.25 apiece.
The real estate slowdown convinced investors that profits from water rights may be years away, Harding says.
Just financing water for municipal use is getting harder in the global recession.
The southern Nevada authority is about halfway through a 30-year, $8.3 billion construction campaign. Last year, 57 percent of the money for it came from a $6,310 fee to hook up new homes. The Las Vegas real estate slump is so severe that total hookup collections dropped to $61.5 million last year from $188.4 million in 2006. Mulroy says the authority actually lost money on hookups in January because of refunds to developers who abandoned construction projects.
As a result, reserves in the construction fund dropped 6 percent in the first six weeks of 2009, to $480 million. Without those reserves, Mulroy says, she couldn’t assure investors the authority would be able to repay the $500 million in bonds she plans to start selling by early fall to complete the Lake Mead project. The authority had $3.9 billion in liabilities on June 30.
‘Rub Two Sticks Together’
The authority also gets money from water deliveries, property taxes and fees from federal land sales. If she has to protect the reserves, Mulroy says, she’ll raise water rates, which total about $21 a month for a single-family home.
She’s asked fellow Nevadan Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate majority leader, for a federal guarantee on the bonds. Reid is exploring how to help big municipal water systems, including Mulroy’s, get easier access to credit, spokesman Jon Summers says.
In February, Mulroy presented such a dire description of the authority’s finances to the Nevada legislature that Jerry Claborn, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, told her, “You’ll have to do like you did years ago: rub two sticks together.”
Mulroy said afterward she wanted to quash any notion that cash-strapped legislators could appropriate her reserves for some other purpose.
To Richard Bunker, who hired her as an administrative assistant when he managed Clark County, Nevada, in 1978, Mulroy’s hardball tactics are a delight.
“She walks into a room with guys who’ve been on the river 50 and 60 years and they just cringe,” he says with a smile.
‘Pay Me Enough’
One thing Mulroy has ruled out, even in the economic meltdown, is using water as an excuse to limit Las Vegas’s growth.
“During the next 50 years, this country’s population is expected to explode by another 140 million,” she says, citing U.S. Census projections. “I always ask, ‘Where do you want the people to go?’”
Mulroy also opposes the idea of privatizing water, or giving investors power to set prices.
“You’d be telling people, ‘Pay me enough or I withhold it,’” she says, her voice rising, in the cafeteria of Clark County’s terra cotta-colored municipal headquarters. “It’s like you’re telling me I can live.”
Mulroy’s unflagging commitment to keeping Las Vegas green and growing gets the blessing of casino owner Stephen Wynn.
“Pat is the best public servant I’ve met in my 40 years on the Strip,” says Wynn, who credits her with teaching him to save money by using treated groundwater for the lagoons surrounding the artificial volcano at the Mirage hotel, now owned by MGM Mirage.
Finding the water for casinos is one reason crews are working around the clock at Lake Mead.
In 2002 alone, lack of rainfall lowered the deep-blue waters by 24.6 feet, leaving white bathtub-ring-like marks on the brown cliffs and stranding docks half a mile from shore.
Today, the lake is 1,112 feet above sea level. Should it fall to 1,075 feet, the federal government would cut the water to seven states that depend on the Colorado River, according to an agreement they all signed in 2007. If that happens, the states would likely renegotiate a 1922 pact that divided up the river’s water rights in the first place, Mulroy says. Mexico’s allocation under a 1944 treaty could also change.
If the drought persists and more water is diverted from the Colorado, the lake could drop to 1,050 feet. That would prevent water from flowing into the intake pipe and cut 40 percent of Las Vegas’s supply -- the disaster Mulroy is trying to head off. Hoover Dam, completed in 1935 to regulate the river and form Lake Mead, wouldn’t be able to produce electricity for the 750,000 people it supplies in Los Angeles.
No More Water
At 1,000 feet, the remaining intakes and the rest of the Lake Mead water would go. Because of climate change and population growth, chances of this are as great as 50 percent by 2026, the University of Colorado’s Udall says.
When Mulroy, a daughter of a civilian employee of the U.S. Air Force, arrived in Las Vegas in 1974, the city had yet to be consumed by a water quest. Until the 1940s, parts of downtown had freely flowing springs.
Mulroy, a native of Germany, studied German literature; got her master’s degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and went to work for Bunker at Clark County. A Mormon bishop, he later ran the state’s Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Resort Association.
Bunker supported her promotion to administrator for the county justice court, which was storing records in shoeboxes when she took over. In 1989, he backed her as general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District, which the state legislature had formed four decades earlier. Mulroy helped create the seven- community Southern Nevada Water Authority two years later.
“Absent her being here, I don’t know where we’d be,” Bunker says.
Around the time Mulroy became water czar, Wynn unleashed the era of Wall Street-financed megaresorts with his 30-story Mirage. He tinted the hotel’s windows with real gold.
Mulroy raced to boost water deliveries throughout the city by as much as 20 percent a year. With Bunker’s help, she started planning the pipeline to tap melting snow under Wheeler Peak, Nevada’s second-highest mountain.
The pipeline’s planned path runs northeast out of Las Vegas, enters Lincoln County and passes through the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, where, in December, gold leaves of cottonwoods shimmer and migratory birds swoop onto lakes fed by artesian springs. Farther north, hilltops are dotted with abandoned mining towns and bands of wild horses.
‘Already Spoken For’
As Mulroy marched north to secure land and permits, she ran headfirst into what Gleick says is a fundamental truth about water across the U.S. and other parts of the world.
“Nearly every drop is already spoken for, often more than once,” he says.
Determined to get what she required, Mulroy went into horse-trading mode.
“You need a large amount of money and some very powerful people to make water projects happen,” says Greg James, a California water rights attorney and a consultant for pipeline opponents.
She struck a deal with Harvey Whittemore, then Nevada’s top gambling lobbyist. Members of Whittemore’s law firm include Rory Reid, Harry Reid’s son. The younger Reid later served as the water authority’s vice chairman, from 2003 to ‘08.
120,000 New Homes
Whittemore, 56, is also a developer who’s planning a new suburb called Coyote Springs, 55 miles north of the Las Vegas Strip. Even with the real estate crash, Coyote Springs will have 120,000 homes and a dozen golf courses when it’s finished in four or five decades, he says.
Whittemore’s land included one of the most productive wells ever drilled in southern Nevada. He sold 9,000 acre-feet of groundwater that he wasn’t using to Mulroy for $30.1 million. (One acre-foot equals about 326,000 gallons, or 1,240 kiloliters, enough for two average U.S. homes for a year.) That led to what Mulroy describes as a partnership in which Whittemore will help pay for the pipeline and use it to ship water to Coyote Springs.
In 2003, Mulroy bargained with reluctant officials in neighboring Lincoln County, persuading them to drop opposition to the project by ceding back to them some of the water rights that she held.
In 2006, farther up the route, she learned how tough the water business can be. She paid $22 million for a ranch that had cost $4.5 million six years earlier. The seller, Carson City, Nevada-based Vidler Water Co., a unit of PICO Holdings Inc., based the price on similar purchases Whittemore had made, Vidler President Dorothy Timian-Palmer says.
Fight Over Greasewood
Last year, Mulroy got into a fight over greasewood with Tim Durbin, a hydrologist who’d once been a consultant for her. Durbin disputed Mulroy’s assessment that the pipeline would avoid major damage to the shrub. In his rebuttal, Durbin described a scene that still touches an open wound in the psyche of the American West.
In 1913, William Mulholland built a 223-mile aqueduct from Owens Valley in California’s Sierras to Los Angeles, where he was water superintendent. The aqueduct drained a 40-foot-deep lake, exposing the valley floor and unleashing dust storms that plagued Los Angeles throughout the 20th century. The aqueduct also inspired the 1974 movie “Chinatown.” In 1970, Los Angeles built a second aqueduct.
Today, the valley’s 75-mile-long expanse looks like it did a millennium ago. The water diverted to Los Angeles makes economic development in the valley impossible.
“Because of groundwater pumping, vegetation was disappearing in the Owens Valley,” says Durbin, who was chief hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in California and Nevada before becoming a private consultant in 1984. “It’s a model for what one would expect in eastern Nevada.”
Because of such memories, Mulroy hasn’t won many friends among eastern Nevada’s old-timers.
Rancher Dean Baker fears Mulroy’s pipeline would drain the water that’s let him survive in Snake Valley, in the shadow of Wheeler Peak, for more than half a century.
Baker, 69, remembers when people staked uranium claims only to realize their Geiger counters were clicking because of residue from atomic tests outside Las Vegas. He recalls flying solo in a Piper J-3 Cub before he could drive.
Most of all, Baker remembers water. He rose at dawn to deliver it to cattle 50 miles away. He culled his herd and watched greasewood wither during droughts. It took 20 years for him to afford a backhoe with a jackhammer that could break rocks that covered a spring on his ranch.
Legacy of Dust
“Water is the limiting factor in everything we do,” Baker says. “The legacy of this pipeline will be dust.”
Baker says people who want to move to Las Vegas should look instead to Mississippi and Louisiana. “People should go where there’s water,” he says.
Mulroy says her job is to bring water to the people. Last year, she said she thought the proposed pipeline could begin transporting water in 2015. Now, because of the recession, she doesn’t know when she’ll have the money to build it.
She says she’ll wait for the economy to recover to decide -- unless Lake Mead drops even more and forces her to act.
Mulroy’s struggle to get water to a growing desert population wouldn’t have surprised John Wesley Powell, the first known explorer to pass through the entire Grand Canyon 130 miles east of Las Vegas.
“You are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over the water rights,” he told the International Irrigation Congress in Los Angeles in 1893. “There is no sufficient water to supply the land.”
Four generations later, Mulroy is a veteran of these age- old conflicts. She says the region’s water emergency is becoming more dangerous because of climate change and population growth. The crisis is too big to be solved one river or one continent at a time, she says.
“We’ve managed water in such small, incremental units,” she says. “We won’t be able to survive in our little bubbles.”
Even people who agree with Mulroy’s warning won’t have an easy time acting on it. As she has, they’ll discover the effort it will take to quench the world’s thirst and realize that the time and money to do so -- like water itself -- are running short.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Russia: Famine that killed millions not genocide
By STEVE GUTTERMAN, Associated Press
Steve Gutterman, Associated Press Writer
Wed Feb 25, 3:06 pm ET
MOSCOW – Russia issued a DVD and a thick book of historical documents on Wednesday to dispute claims that the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s amounted to genocide.
Russian archivists and historians pressed the Kremlin's case that the Stalin-era famine — which killed millions of people — was a common tragedy across Soviet farmlands, countering efforts by Ukraine's pro-Western president to convince the world that Ukrainians were targeted for starvation.
"Not a single document exists that even indirectly shows that the strategy and tactics chosen for Ukraine differed from those applied to other regions, not to mention tactics or strategy with the aim of genocide," said Vladimir Kozlov, head of Russia's Federal Archive Agency.
He said the famine was a direct result of Josef Stalin's brutal collectivization campaign and the widespread confiscation of grain that was exported to secure equipment needed for the Soviet dictator's frenetic industrialization drive.
Kozlov said the policy was class-based, targeting the kulaks — wealthy farmers seen as enemies of Communism — and was implemented virtually identically across the Soviet Union.
"There were no national or ethnic undertones," he told a news conference at the headquarters of state news agency RIA-Novosti.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko contends the famine was aimed at rooting out Ukrainian nationalism.
"Hunger was selected as a tool to subdue the Ukrainian people," he said at a November ceremony marking the anniversary of what Ukrainians consider the onset of the 1932-1933 famine.
Ukrainian lawmakers and a U.S. commission have labeled the famine an act of genocide, and Yushchenko has pushed for more governments and international bodies to follow suit. However, neither the United Nations nor the European Union has done so.
The heated dispute over the past comes amid a mounting tug-of-war over the future of Ukraine, whose European aspirations and tight historical ties to Russia make for a potentially volatile mix.
Yushchenko is pushing for NATO membership, a prospect Russia has said it will do its utmost to prevent.
Russian officials have cast the genocide claim as part of an effort by Yushchenko to discredit Russia in he eyes of Ukrainians and the West.
Months before his death last summer, the renowned writer and Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn dismissed the genocide claim as a "fable" that could only fool the West.
On Wednesday, Alexander Dyukov, director of Historical Memory, a Moscow-based foundation that helped organize Wednesday's news conference, said: "It is aimed, among other things, at inciting ethnic hate, at tearing Ukraine away from Russia."
Journalists were given an English-language DVD and a 500-page book reproducing documents — some of them recently declassified — that are to be included in a three-volume study of the famine in the U.S.S.R. from 1929 to 1934.
They include letters portraying the dire situation at the time in what is now Russia and in other ex-Soviet republics and orders — some with Stalin's stamped signature in red ink — denying pleas for a letup in grain procurement quotas. Other documents suggest officials in Ukraine misled Moscow about the extent of hunger there.
The famine's death toll is disputed, but it is widely believed that it killed between 3 million and 7 million people in Ukraine.
Yushchenko has said as many as 10 million Ukrainians died, while Russian historian Valery Tishkov said more conservative estimates of 3.5 million deaths in Ukraine and 3.5 million in Russia are likely about twice the true toll.
Last night, Mr. Obama spoke to the nation. He was, according to Neilson, watched in just over 37 million homes by 52 million people.
Big numbers for a person who received over 60 million votes. Apparently, some of the people didn't watch. Probably busy working.
Comparisons are fun, and I say this in all seriousness - the White House, regardless of inhabitant does look at every historical trend, pattern, blip ... THEY DO.
So, we should as well!
In 1993, Bill Clinton, for his 1st State of the Union, spoke to 44 million homes and nearly 67 million people. I was, I think, one of them.
In 1998, pre-impeachment, Bill Spoke to the nation and 36.5 million watched in 53 million homes. I doubt I watched.
In 1999, 30 million homes and nearly 45 million people watched Clinton AFTER he was impeached.
Bush's first speech, after the debacle of Florida was watched by 28 million homes and 40 million people. Not a good start.
In 2002, Bush spoke to the nation and 35 million homes tuned in with 52 million people watching. Obama tied, did not exceed.
In 2003, Bush spoke to the nation several months before the Iraq war, and 62 million Americans watched in 42 million homes. A nation divided over war, 1/2 hating Bush more than they hate evil - apparently watched.
In 2008, his last speech to the nation, which I did not watch, was seen in 28 million homes by nearly 38 million people. This at a time when Bush had one of the 'lowest' ratings of modern presidents. Not bad for someone we were told no one liked. Imagine if they liked the guy. Obama would have had to dance and juggle to get a better score.
I do not have the source for her 'facts' but from anecdotes only - they seem reasonable. Don't dismiss her facts from her sarcasm. She does provide facts, albeit I do not have any citations for them. I am not including all her sarcasm or bombastic commentary - simply the little bit on education.
What she fails to mention is, after receiving the worst possible education, most of our students turn around in university and we again have the best education system in the world. Goes to show - as bad as it can get, students somehow come out reasonably ok at the end.
The exception would be - what happens to them when they finish their university education. many will be sucking on the exhaust pipe of liberalism and spouting off its many achievements - like education.
In fourth grade, the earliest grade for which international comparisons are available, American students outperform most other countries in reading, math and science. Fourth-graders score in the 92nd percentile in science, the 58th percentile in math and the 70th percentile in reading, where they beat 26 of 35 countries, including Germany, France and Italy.
But by the eighth grade, American students are only midrange in international comparisons.
By the 12th grade -- after receiving the full benefits of an American education -- Americans are near the bottom.
Why? because Eric Holder says the prisoners are being well treated. Obama, the man who spoke of torture and the need for the US to close Guantanamo because of torture ... sent HIS man to view the place and HE came back and said the detainees were being treated well. Suddenly NO MORE TORTURE. Amazing that.
Now this lawyer, Ahmed Ghappour, says it is worse. And who tells him it is worse - al qaida and other useless sorts. Of course they would not exaggerate. Truth tellers all.
Exclusive: Lawyer says Guantanamo abuse worse since Obama
Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:23pm EST
By Luke Baker
LONDON (Reuters) - Abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has worsened sharply since President Barack Obama took office as prison guards "get their kicks in" before the camp is closed, according to a lawyer who represents detainees.
Abuses began to pick up in December after Obama was elected, human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour told Reuters. He cited beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.
The Pentagon said on Monday that it had received renewed reports of prisoner abuse during a recent review of conditions at Guantanamo, but had concluded that all prisoners were being kept in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
"According to my clients, there has been a ramping up in abuse since President Obama was inaugurated," said Ghappour, a British-American lawyer with Reprieve, a legal charity that represents 31 detainees at Guantanamo.
"If one was to use one's imagination, (one) could say that these traumatized, and for lack of a better word barbaric, guards were just basically trying to get their kicks in right now for fear that they won't be able to later," he said.