Sunday, September 30, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Washington (TGW) - John Marburger, one of U.S. President George Bush's scientific advisers, said climate change is real and is likely caused by humanity.
He said he is 90% certain that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming.
"I think there is widespread agreement on certain basics, and one of the most important is that we are producing far more CO2 from fossil fuels than we ought to be. And it's going to lead to trouble unless we can begin to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we are burning and using in our economies,” he told the BBC in an interview.
"The CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere and there's no end point, it just gets hotter and hotter, and so at some point it becomes unlivable," he said.
"You only have two choices; you either have advanced technologies and get them into the marketplace, or you shut down your economies and put people out of work," he said.
The Bush administration has been resistant to joining the fight against climate change.
Via :: BBC (click here for the whole interview)
Monday, September 24, 2007
Reuters: Bush thinks Clinton will win Democratic nomination
Political Grind: This is Hillary’s Time
Political Realm: Wesley Clark Endorses Clinton
Hillary Clinton is increasingly edging towards the Democratic nomination. She’s ahead of Barack Obama by over 20 points, most polls indicate.
So what? Polls aren’t very accurate, after all, right? Right. And that’s why Clinton’s nomination is even more likely.
The voter factor
Polls aren’t very accurate for many reasons, but one is more important than others: the likelihood a voter will vote. In fact, only 54% of eligible voters actually vote. A candidate may have a 20 percentage point lead, but when the election actually comes, the win could narrow to only 7 or 8% of the vote. Why? People choose not to vote. Out of the top 3 Democratic candidates, whose supporters are most likely to cast ballots come Election Day? Here are three brief summaries:
‘The machine’. Clinton’s ‘political machine’ comes with years of experience and political know-how. She has very staunch support from her husband’s fundraisers and supporters. Out of the three top tier candidates, Mrs. Clinton probably has the most compassionate supporters.
Barack Obama, the symbol of change. Obama has a lot of supporter among younger voters, with less political experience. Statistics show that younger votes are even less likely to vote than the rest of the American population. Obama’s voter support ranks at #2.
John Edwards has made his campaign about poverty. Will poorer, lower-class groups support him? You bet. But just like younger voters, those below the poverty level are less likely to come out and vote. John Edwards comes in at #3, just like in the polls.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I think, at least temporarily, posting here is going to move to every other day.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Of course, Stat just posts whenever, and I might post other times as well.
The reason is that until the end of October I'm very busy every day. But I hope having a scheduled post every other day that I will be able to write better quality posts, even if they're posted less often.
Posted by Simmons at 1:38 PM
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Sept. 19, 2007: Ghanem, 64, an anti-Syria lawmaker from the Christian Phalange Party, is killed in a blast in Beirut. Six others also die.
June 13, 2007: Walid Eido, 65, an anti-Syria member of Parliament, is killed along with his son, two bodyguards, and six others in an explosion in Beirut.
Nov. 21, 2006: Pierre Gemayel, 34, the industry minister and a prominent anti-Syria Christian politician, is shot to death by gunmen in a Beirut suburb.
Dec. 12, 2005: Gibran Tueni, an anti-Syria newspaper editor and lawmaker, is killed when a car bomb destroys his vehicle.
June 21, 2005: Anti-Syria politician George Hawi, a former Communist Party leader, is killed by a bomb placed under his car.
June 2, 2005: Anti-Syria journalist and activist Samir Kassir is killed by a bomb planted under his car.
Feb. 14, 2005: Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, an anti-Syria lawmaker, is assassinated in a bombing that also kills 20 other people. Among the dead is Bassel Fleihan, who served as economy minister in Hariri's government. The opposition blames the Syrian and Lebanese governments, charges both deny.
SOURCE: Associated Press
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
CALGARY—An innovative new Web broadcaster is using the power of the Internet to inspire children and youth in schools across North America to make a difference.
Quantum Shift TV is challenging students from grades one to twelve across the United States and Canada to participate in the “Be the Change! Share the Story!” School Video Contest. Students are invited to work on a social or environmental project of their choice, and document their progress in two short videos to be uploaded on the Web. In addition to making a difference in their community, students have an opportunity to win up to $50,000 in prizes for their school.
Through this contest, Quantum Shift TV is building an online community focused on socially conscious, solution-oriented videos. An entertaining puzzle game woven into the contest stimulates cross-pollination of ideas by encouraging youth to watch each other’s videos. Teams receive points for social network activity as well as viewer ratings of their videos.
“We’re harnessing three powerful cultural forces: youth social action, Internet gaming and the explosion of online video and digital storytelling.” says Hugo Bonjean, the founder and CEO of Quantum Shift TV. “As we’ve seen with YouTube, Web video has a powerful ability to engage audiences, particularly youth, around the world. Quantum Shift TV is using this power to inspire students to take action on the social and environmental issues of the day.”
Projects can range from volunteering at a homeless shelter to educating the community about human rights, measuring a school’s carbon footprint to building a hospital in a developing country—anything that addresses an environmental or social concern in a positive, solution-oriented way. Student teams will execute their project and document their progress in a series of two short videos. The first video, introducing the team’s project, must be uploaded to QuantumShift.tv by December 15, 2007. The second, reporting on the project’s execution and results, is due by March 31, 2008.
Teams will be ranked based on Web metrics such as number of views on their videos, viewer ratings, puzzles completed and social network activity. In May, the 25 top-ranked videos in each age category—Elementary (grades 1-6), Junior (7-9) and Senior (10-12)—will be reviewed by a panel of celebrity judges who will select the 3 finalists in each age group and invite the public to choose the winners. Judges include bestselling author and environmentalist Paul Hawken, actress Pleasant Wayne, skateboarder Bob Burnquist, executive-with-a-cause John Wood, Bioneers founder Kenny Ausubel and Nigerian women’s rights activist Hafsat Abiola. Winners will be chosen based on community involvement, project execution, video quality, and overall social and environmental impact.
To provide project ideas and resources for both students and teachers, Quantum Shift TV has partnered with key organizations like UNICEF, Free the Children, Room to Read, TransFair, NAAEE, TakingITGlobal, The Pembina Institute, New Global Citizens, Sierra Youth Coalition, Rainforest Action Network, Care and Oxfam.
Bonjean anticipates that this contest will mobilize some 100,000 kids across the United States and Canada to act on thousands of social and environmental projects. “This contest will serve as a catalyst for youth engagement and activism as youth learn from and are inspired by each other,” he added. For teachers and educational professionals, “Be the Change” is a project-based tool to teach their students about social and environmental issues that can easily be incorporated into curricula.
Students and educators can find out more and sign up for the contest at http://www.quantumshift.tv/schools.
For other bloggers (or the press):
These 2 videos inspired this contest:
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Israel strike on Syria? Yup.
North Korea supplying Syria with nuclear technology? Nope.
Fox news, along with right-wing extremists (notably John Bolton) are publishing stories and op-eds claiming they have (unidentified) ‘sources’ who tell them North Korea may be supplying Syria with nuclear technology. We find that very unlikely.
First, North Korea is just beginning to disclose its nuclear facilities to the U.S. and the U.N, for very large sums of money, oil, and other basic necessities. If North Korea is selling nuclear technology to Syria, Syria would be paying very well. North Korea would not need anything from the U.S. After the North Korean nuclear deal earlier this year, most analysts suspected (for good reason) that North Korea badly needed the aid they were receiving in the deal. North Korea wouldn’t be needing that if they were exporting nuclear know-how.
Second, New deals with the DPRK are being announced every other week it feels like. Kim Jong-Il is giving the impression that he actually wants to shutdown his nuclear program. North Korea has decided to allow American, Russian, and United Nations inspectors to visit the Yongbyon plant.
Third, there are better explanations. It is more likely that Israel was either testing Syria’s defense capabilities, or destroying Syrian arms headed towards Hezbollah. Our bet is on the second.
No matter what the reason was – nukes, defense testing, or to destroy arms – Stat and I are back Israel’s maneuvers. A nuclear Syria would be nearly as disastrous as a nuclear Iran. While we would be back the operation less if it was only a test of Syrian defenses, Syria is still a very dangerous, terrorist-supplying dictatorship. And if our guess is correct, and the strike was to destroy weapons headed towards Hezbollah or terrorists in Iraq, we here are happy that the Israelis took the matter in to their own hands.
Yesterday was the 1 year anniversary of the first post here at Thoughts on the World. You can see the first post here. The truth is yesterday was kinda really busy, so I didn't have a chance write this yesterday.
I came in with no knowledge of blogs, blogging, or politics on the Internet. All I knew was that I wanted to express my opinions on the internet. It's been a strange journey.
Let's not get too emotional.
Most trafficked post: 5 Reasons Solar Power Works
Least trafficked post: Post of the Month: June
Posted by Simmons at 2:07 PM
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Stat blogs at The Statistics Monster. If you would like to blog here, send us an email at worldthoughts(at)gmail(dot)com.
There are 12 states with bottle deposit refunds. You know, those things where you bring in your bottles and they give you money? Here they are:
California: 5 or 10 cents
Connecticut: 5 cents
Delaware: 5 cents
Hawaii: 5 cents
Iowa: 5 cents, also applies to wine bottles
Maine: 5 cents, also applies to fruit juice and bottled water, 15 cents for some wine bottles
Massachusetts: 5 cents
Michigan: 10 cents
New York: 5 cents
Oregon: 5 cents
Vermont: 5 cents
The northeast seems to have the highest amount of states with a refund policy.
Monday, September 10, 2007
As the British withdraw from Basra, we here in America are struggling to find a way to meet our goals in Iraq.
There have been many proposed solutions, but there are no good options; each plan to fix or to get out of Iraq contains serious flaws.
Our strategic objective in Iraq since the start of the war has been to create pro-American coalition government in Baghdad. The original Rumsfeld plan was to go in, create some degree of stability while training the Iraqis to pacify Iraq. We would then withdraw leaving the rest of the nation building to the Iraqis.
It didn’t work.
We now have 3 options available. The first is to maintain the current strategy. This is the Bush Administration’s point of view. The second is a rapid withdrawal of forces, a position held by a fairly small group mostly on the left. The third is to start a phased withdrawal, beginning sometime in the next few months and concluding when circumstances allow. This is the consensus among most moderate Democrats and a growing number of Republicans. All three options, however, suffer from fatal defects.
Bush’s plan for staying the course makes very little sense. We have tried this option for 4 years now, and it has not been successful. As they say, trying the same method twice and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
But there is an argument for this case. The Bush Administration, as do the plan’s supporters, argue that this plan should continue indefinitely in order to avoid a more dangerous outcome: an Iranian controlled Middle East.
There is no question that if the U.S. were to withdraw, there would be a major power vacuum in the Middle East. Who else to fill that vacuum but Iran? Saudi Arabia does not have the military might to stand up to Iran.
But you must consider the defects of this approach. The army is near the breaking point and morale is low at home. The cost of this approach, in money and lives, will continue to rise.
The second option is a phased withdrawal. This appears to be the most reasonable, moderate proposal. But consider this: if the mission were to remain the same – fight the insurgents and train the Iraqi army in order to increase security – then we would be doing the same job with fewer troops, and still maintaining casualties. Fewer casualties, but nevertheless American injuries and deaths.
Only under a different strategic goal would phased withdrawal make sense. Most likely, that redefined goal would be dealing with Iran. But under the same strategic goal the U.S. has been pursuing since the start of the war, phased withdrawal is the least defensible strategy.
Championed by presidential candidate Bill Richardson, the third option is an immediate pullout. If we are to withdraw, this plan would be more attractive than a phased withdrawal; it achieves the same ends without the casualties.
The flaw of this strategy is that it opens the door for Iran to dominate Iraq. The only power in the region that could have any chance of stopping the Iranians is the Turks, and Turkey has no problem with a controlled Kurdish population.
Sunnis, Kurds and even some Shiites would resist Iran. But Iraq is much more important to Iran than it is to the U.S., and the authoritarian Iranian theocracy has a much higher pain resistance than the U.S.
The situation would be an extraordinary opportunity for the Iranians; they would be knocking on Saudi Arabia’s door. The Saudis don’t have the military might to stop Iran, and Saudi Arabia could be forced into a political agreement with the Iranians. Iran could even influence Saudi oil. The whole Arabian Peninsula would be threatened.
All three conventional options, therefore, contain serious flaws. Continuing the current strategy pursues an unattainable goal. Staged withdrawal exposes fewer U.S. troops to more aggressive enemy action. Rapid withdrawal quickly opens the door for possible regional Iranian hegemony -- and lays a large part of the world's oil reserves at Iran's feet.
Changing the objective
We have three approaches, each with imperfections. The solution is to change the strategic goal.
The obvious choice for America’s new objective is the prevention of an Iranian hegemony. Besides creating a stable, pro-American government in Iraq, what is in our national interest in the Middle East? To stop anti-American forces. Expanded Iranian power will not help American interests in the Middle East or around the globe.
The U.S. cannot control the populace of Iraq. The U.S. has never been a great counterinsurgency force, but we remain a great conventional force. Therefore, we still have the ability to stop Iran. We could position our forces in Saudi Arabia, but the last time that happened, we helped sparked the rise of Islamic terrorism. The best remaining areas are Kurdistan and Kuwait.
Residual U.S. forces would be left in Kurdistan and Kuwait to keep Iran under control. This would allow for a rebuilding of the military and a reduction of American casualties.
Since all three conventional options are flawed, this is the only way out. We leave on our own terms, with fewer casualties, with our national honor. We would have a chance to rebuild the military, and a chance to salvage our interests in the Middle East.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Everybody welcome Stat Statistical, the statistics monster, from Statistics Monster!
He will now be co-blogging here with me, as well as at Thoughts on Global Warming.
Stat blogs about statistics. For more, see the Statistics Monster about page. Please give him a warm welcome!
Friday, September 07, 2007
Washington (ToGW) - Two-thirds of the world's current polar bear population could be gone by 2050 if predictions of melting sea ice hold true, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Friday.
Polar bears could become extinct even sooner than predicted because sea ice has been melting faster than expected, the USGS said in a report aimed at determining whether the arctic bear should be classified as a threatened species.
"Projected changes in future sea ice conditions, if realized, will result in loss of approximately two-thirds of the world's current polar bear population by the mid 21st century," the report's executive summary said.
"Because the observed trajectory of Arctic sea ice decline appears to be underestimated by currently available models, this assessment of future polar bear status may be conservative."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering putting polar bears under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
Via :: Reuters
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Has the War in Iraq helped the War in Afghanistan?
An outrageous claim, but think about it; many terrorists are now in Iraq, fighting us there, instead of fighting us in Afghanistan.
When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Islamists came down on the occupiers hard. Now, the U.S. is meeting comparatively less resistance.
The ‘Al-Qaeda’ that is not in hiding is probably concentrating their firepower in Iraq. It would make sense, n’est-ce pas?
But there’s another side to the argument. Iraq has drawn huge amounts of resources away from Afghanistan. Troops, funding and public interest are just a few.
It comes down to opinion: is the number of terrorists possibly kept out of Iraq more or less important than the loss of troops, funding and public interest.
I'd probably say Iraq has hurt the War in Afghanistan, but that's my opinion. Feel free to tell yours.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Israel is considering a power cut in Gaza in retaliation for a rocket attack that almost hit a kindergarten in a town called Sderot. This may not be the best option, but considering Israel’s current strategy, it could be the best option.
Israel’s current strategy
Israel has been attempting to isolate Hamas and make their government in Gaza look like a failure. Israel, the U.S., and other western powers have been bolstering Mahmoud Abbas’s (semi-)democratic government in the West Bank to solidify this image.
It hasn’t been going so well. Gaza hasn’t been a failure, but it hasn’t been a success either. But because of an international boycott of trade with Gaza, it will be a failure soon. Gaza isn’t getting basic supplies, and Gaza is being torn apart by it.
A power cut would hasten Gaza’s downfall, but it would help to continue to alienate the one group of Palestinians that support’s Israel: the merchants. More on this later.
But if Israel is to continue its current policy, cutting power would be the best choice.
The mistake of the strategy
Israel has been making life in Gaza miserable for Gazans, and life will only become exponentially worse in the following weeks and months.
Basic aid and food is making it into the Palestinian territory, but that’s just about it. Not a lot’s getting in, and less is getting out. An international boycott is preventing trade with Gaza.
By increasing poverty, unemployment, and general dissatisfaction in Gaza, the West is creating the perfect situation for terrorism to grow. Terrorism is like a disease: it grows on dissatisfaction.
The international boycott is hitting Gazan merchants the hardest. They were content (or more content than the majority of Palestinians) selling their goods in Israel. Now, they can’t sell their goods in Israel, or anywhere at all. The one group that once stood by Israel is now receiving the brunt of Israel’s approach. Does that sound smart?
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
After "How Many Republicans Does it Take to Screw in a Lightbulb", here comes this:
How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb?
1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed;
2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed;
3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb;
4. One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs;
5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb;
6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner: Light Bulb Change Accomplished;
7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally in the dark;
8. One to viciously smear #7;
9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along;
10. And finally one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.
Monday, September 03, 2007
I’ve been divided over whether or not to blockade Iran. It sounds extreme, but I couldn’t find any solid argument against it. But now I've made my decision over a blockade. We shouldn't do it. For 2 reasons:
1. It would consume too many resources
Our navy may not be as heavily involved in Iraq and Afghanistan as, say, the Army, but we do have a budget deficit, and I'm sure this would not help.
2. Would we attack our allies?
Iran is still the 4th largest exporter of crude oil. What would we do if China, Russia, or even France needed that oil and tried to bypass our blockade? Would we sink them? Capture their ship? How many enemies does the U.S. need?