North Archives - November 30, 2010
| Editorial | News & Views
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Nanny in Chief Targets Obesity
By John McClaughry
state of Vermont faces a $112 million General Fund shortfall next year
- and even more if the promised Challenge for Change savings fizzle out.
The state also faces a total unfunded retirement benefits liability of
$1.932 billion. The state's taxpayers endure the 5th highest state and
local tax burden of the 50 states. Families in every community are out
of work and insecure.
One concerned office holder,
Attorney General William Sorrell, has decided that it's time for a bold
new initiative: to raise $30 million in new taxes to enable state government
to wage war against. The Menace of Obesity.
Did Pope Benedict XVI Really Say about Condoms, AIDS, and Male Prostitutes?
By Kelly Bartlett
some people more interested in fighting the Church and its leader, than
fighting HIV? The interviewer himself, Peter Seewald pointed out
how crucial Catholics have been in treating HIV patients: "Twenty-five
percent of all AIDs victims around the world today are treated in Catholic
facilities. In some countries, such as Lesotho, for example, the statistic
is 40 percent."
"Student" Who Dares Not Speak His Name
By Martin Harris
was one Robert Weissberg, NYC native turned Midwestern college professor,
now turned retiree and author. His 2010 book, "Bad Students, not Bad Schools",
has attracted all the usual recriminations from all the usual suspects:
dis-respect for education and racism are just two. The book makes the basic
argument that there are, in public schools, some "students" who don’t want
to be there, and they respond with passive or active resistance.
In an earlier column I called them "Students-Who_Won’t_Learn, or SWWL’s.
The official edu-crat non-solution is to pretend that no SWWL problem exists.
"Retention is embraced even if this impedes learning among their classmates",
he writes in the first page of the Preface. He answers the "why?" question
as well: on p. 18 he writes "hundreds of interests have financial interest
in educational policy, and many hire well-paid professional advocates to
conduct self-serving research". He doesn’t write about the single most
expensive policy of all, class size reduction, and the many studies—Hanushek,
Vedder, Hoxby, et al.— illustrating that lower student numbers don’t produce
higher grades, but the policy does, as Hanushek specifically says, expand
staffing and raise per-pupil costs substantially. Weissberg does write
about the student-conduct traits which, even if practiced by only a few,
trigger both parent-initiated real-student flight (both white and black)
and, in his words, "motivated-teacher flight" to schools where teaching
and learning are actually accomplished, students and teachers are physically
safer, and costs are lower, as negatively illustrated by the District of
Columbia schools, with their highest-in-the-nation per-pupil costs and
lowest-in-the nation per-pupil achievement.
# # #
Week’s Mail Bag
The Banana Menace
Watch for this headline:
"Anti-Nuclear Activists Picket Supermarket! Radioactive Food Discovered
In Produce Section." And it wouldn't be a joke.
Food contains radioactivity.
Bananas contain radioactive potassium-40. Drinking 2 liters of tritiated
water a day for a year at the drinking water limit of .00000002 curies
(20,000 picocuries) would give you a dose of 4 millirems for the year.
You’d get the same 4 millirems by eating 19 bananas during the year.
It is only a matter of time before the anti-nuclear activists, figuring
this out, will demand stopping the sale of bananas.
Normal background radiation
in this country gives the average American 350 millirems a year.
Most of this comes from cosmic ray bombardment and radon from bedrock.
The radiation released by America's 104 nuclear plants adds one more millirem.
One bitewing dental X-ray or a one plane flight from Boston to California
and partway back produces 4 millirems.
The EPA deliberately
allows only the amount of radiation in water whose effect will be indistinguishable
from background radiation or minor lifestyle choices, such as a trip to
Reactor plant design assumes
earthquakes, leaks, and personnel error. Hardware, control systems,
training, administration, security, and management are all designed to
identify problems and mistakes, and get them fixed.
The regulations on emitted
radioactivity protect the public with a huge margin of safety.
Of course, this information
won't change minds impervious to science. However, intelligent citizens
will understand it.
Howard Shaffer III
Howard Shaffer III is
a retired nuclear engineer who lives in Enfield NH. He is a senior advisor
to the Ethan Allen Institute’s Energy Education Project.
* * *
VT Poverty Level
Could it be that Vermont's
poverty level is related to the number of folks arriving here from out
of state for the sole purpose of receiving assistance? I know for
sure in many cases it is. With the support of our Representatives
and government assistance, Vermont built several hundred housing units
suitable for low income and seniors who are welcome here from all over
Vermont has also become devoid
of jobs, jobs, jobs. Candidates running for office promise to create
jobs. But few materialize. The so called "environmentalists"
have all but shut down opportunity for business to prosper in Vermont.
The recent election result promises to shut down Vt. Yankee. Business
requires affordable energy. When our state and country makes it more
feasible for business to prosper elsewhere, what is left for jobs in Vermont
other than medical, state and federal government jobs.
Education is another subject
that I heard much about when on the campaign trail during the recent election.
Apparently parents are concerned about the need for more money to correct
the ills of their school districts. So they support and vote for
so called "Progressive Candidates". The very candidates who look
to government to do for them what they ought to be doing for themselves.
In the process their schools become infested with the ills of a socialistic
system and they cry, government needs to do more.
I recently was introduced
to the film, Agenda: Grinding Down America. It begins with a quote,
"America is like a healthy body, and its resistance is threefold; its patriotism,
its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three
areas, America will collapse from within." I ask, do you know who
the author is? It also spoke of the term spoken by Lenin, "useful
idiots". I ask, who is he referring to? How do I fit into and contribute
to the "Grinding Down of America"?
Often when outside of Vermont,
I hear my homeland state being referred to as the "welfare state."
I ask, what is the definition of a "welfare state?"
You may be asking it too.
Ah yes, we want that no one
go hungry. Might we ask how does our vote contribute to hunger?
Ellie Martin is a Member
of the Green Mountain Patriots
of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of
government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally, staked
on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."
# # #
-- George Washington in his
First Inaugural Address
Weekly News Round-Up
Repo Man Cometh
By Chris Campion, Vermont
Tiger, November 25 2010
Answering the question "What
happens when BT can't pay its bills?", CitiCapital has decided to
repossess BT's telecom equipment, equipment BT leased through
its financing deal. Stunningly, the Mayor of Burlington thinks it
won't be a problem to replace those technical assets required to provide
the services BT sells to its customers. This is like assuming you
can still make pizzas in your pizza shop if your financing company repossesses
the ovens due to lack of payment - it is not very likely that another lender
is going to run into your now-empty pizza joint with a bagful of cash.
More Vermont Soldiers Are Home
From Fox 44, November 22
Forty Vermont brigade soldiers
have been waiting for this moment, for what some say, felt like forever.
"As soon as you see the date
in the calendar when you are going home, it just drags on," said Sergeant
"You just walk through the
door and then I see these guys waving, it's just, I can't really describe
it," added Kittell as he held his son.
The 86th Infantry Brigade
Combat Team was in Gardez, Afghanistan. Colonel John Boyd says part
of the mission was to improve the local government and livelihood.
From Vermont Tiger, November
The new congress in Washington
may abandon the practice of "earmarks." It won't necessarily save
any money in the aggregate – though it might – but it will mean an end
to the spectacle of senators and representatives returning home in triumph
because they have secured this or that bauble in the appropriations melee.
"Don't you love me?
I got you millions for a new, downtown parking garage?"
Somehow, the millions are
made to seem like free money, though every dollar that comes from Washington
had to go there first and run the obstacle course of K Street lobbying,
Congressional horsetrading, and the rest. Then, what's left of the
dollar is sent back home to pay for a paving project and buy votes.
The Vermont delegation is
in favor of keeping the system. Why trifle with a creation so sublime,
Vermonters seek food aid
By Lisa Rathke, Bennington
Banner, November 28, 2010
When the Enosburg Food Shelf
opened three years ago in this farm country town, organizers expected to
serve 60 families a month, at most. Now, an average of 160 take advantage
Food shelf treasurer Suzanne
Hull-Parent says the resources of lower middle-class familes are drying
up as the economy continues to wobble.
A new federal report on hunger
issued Nov. 15 found that Vermont and Alabama have had the highest increase
in "food insecurity" during the last 10 years.
Between 2008 and 2009, the
share of households in Vermont that at times don't have enough nutritious
food rose from 12.1 percent to 13.6 percent. In Alabama, the rate rose
from 13.8 percent to 15 percent in the same period. The Department of Agriculture,
which also takes into account population size and other factors, says the
states are tied in having had the biggest increase in the last decade.
"The choices that families have to make when it comes to meeting their
basic needs are heartbreaking. Choosing between heat and food or housing
and food are decisions that people just shouldn't have to make," said Marissa
Parisi, executive director of the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger.
the Cable; Taking Down the Dish
By Tom Evslin, Vermont Tiger,
November 22 2010
People are dropping their
pay TV subscriptions. According to an article
in The New York Times, cable, satellite and telecommunications
subscriptions for entertainment during the third quarter of 2010 declined
by 119,000; it was the second consecutive quarterly decline. Although the
economic situation indubitably has something to do with the decline, the
third quarter of 2009 – when times were even worse – saw a gain of 346,000
Ian Olgeirson, a senior analyst
at SNL Kagan, is quoted in the NYTimes story as saying that it is
"becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss the impact of over-the-top
substitution on video subscriber performance." In other words, people are
increasingly obtaining their entertainment ala carte over their
Internet connections. Most of the online content is free; some is ad-supported;
and some requires a subscription or pay-per-view. Some of it is user-created
as in YouTube; but some is very professional including first-run TV shows
and Major League baseball (MLB.com).
Data Mining Law Is Ruled Unconstitutional
By Ed Silverman, Pharmalot.com,
November 1 2010
A federal appeals court has
ruled that a Vermont law restricting data mining - specifically, the sale
of prescription drug info that identifies prescribers and patients for
commercial marketing purposes - is unconstitutional. The law was challenged
by three healthcare research firms - IMS Health, SDI, Wolters Kluwer health
- and the PhRMA trade group, which argued the legislation would hurt public
access to healthcare info and violated commercial speech.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions
By Ed Barnes, Fox News,
November 26 2010
In the 20th century, this
would have been a job for James Bond.
The mission: Infiltrate the
highly advanced, securely guarded enemy headquarters where scientists in
the clutches of an evil master are secretly building a weapon that can
destroy the world. Then render that weapon harmless and escape undetected.
But in the 21st century,
Bond doesn't get the call. Instead, the job is handled by a suave and very
sophisticated secret computer worm, a jumble of code called Stuxnet, which
in the last year has not only crippled Iran's nuclear program but has caused
a major rethinking of computer security around the globe.
Conflict on the Korean Peninsula
From Strategic Forecasters,
November 23 2010
North Korea and South Korea
exchanged artillery fire near their disputed border in the Yellow Sea/West
Sea on Nov. 23. The incident raises several questions, not the least of
which is whether Pyongyang is attempting to move the real "red line" for
conventional weapons engagements, just as it has managed to move the limit
of "acceptable" behavior regarding its nuclear program.
Security Threats and Realities
By Scott Stewart, Strategic
Forecasters, November 23 2010
Over the past few weeks,
aviation security — specifically, enhanced passenger-screening procedures
— has become a big issue in the media. The discussion of the topic has
become even more fervent as we enter Thanksgiving weekend, which is historically
one of the busiest travel periods of the year. As this discussion has progressed,
we have been asked repeatedly by readers and members of the press for our
opinion on the matter.
We have answered such requests
from readers, and we have done a number of media interviews, but we’ve
resisted writing a fresh analysis on aviation security because, as an organization,
our objective is to lead the media rather than follow the media regarding
a particular topic. We want our readers to be aware of things before they
become pressing public issues, and when it comes to aviation-security threats
and the issues involved with passenger screening, we believe we have accomplished
this. Many of the things now being discussed in the media are things we’ve
written about for years.
Law: Coming Soon to a Courtroom Near You
An Oklahoma judge
rules against the public interest.
By Hans A. Von Spakovsky,
National Review, November 22 2010
If you thought only U.S.
laws ruled the land, you thought wrong — at least according to a crazy
decision recently handed down by a federal judge in Oklahoma.
On November 2, Sooner State
voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum that directs courts to "rely
on federal and state law when deciding cases" and forbids "courts from
considering or using international law" or "Sharia law." Muneer Awad responded
by filing suit, and Judge Micki Miles-LaGrange, a Clinton appointee, promptly
issued a temporary restraining order, putting the people’s voice on hold.
The plaintiff asserted that
his First Amendment rights would be violated if Oklahoma’s constitution
was amended to implement this ban against consideration of Sharia law.
The amendment, he claimed, would constitute official "disapproval" of his
religion. Moreover, it would invalidate his last will and testament, which
incorporates various teachings of Mohammed.
Russia Can Save Europe from Islamisation, Zhirinovsky Believes
From Interfax, November
The leader of the Liberal
Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky believes Russia can help Western
countries to meet the challenge of Islamisation.
"If the threat of Africa,
Asia and Islamisation aggravates, only Russia will be able to save those
countries, and this is going to be still another "Suvorov's march" crossing
the Alps, but not by the soldiers and the army, but by some joint projects
aimed at restraining Europe's conquest by the Asians and the Africans,"
he said in a TV show Main Subject (3rd Channel).
According to Zhirinovsky,
Arabs will soon account for the majority of Paris population. He also emphasized
the challenges of assimilating Turks in Germany and Albanians and Kurds
A well-known writer Yelena
Chudinova, speaking of tolerance, said "virtue without reason is a sin"
and "tolerance has long been a sin."
"All our tolerance has been
a one-way street. If the situation were different, there would be a dialog.
As any reasonable person, I would prefer a dialog, but our tolerance has
been viewed as our weakness, and this is where the two mentalities clash,"
Inspire Magazine - Special Edition
By Steve Emerson, Family
Security Matters, November 24 2010
It took just $4,200 for al-Qaida
of the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] to launch its latest attempted attack,
"Operation Hemorrhage," the bombing of Western targets and cargo planes
with mail bombs, according to a special
edition of the group's English language Inspire magazine
released over the weekend.
Although many analysts have
cited the magazine's depth of detail surrounding the attempt, a number
of surprising omissions also provide information about the evolving plots
of al-Qaida. Notably, the special edition's articles go into great depth
aspects of the effort, and how this is the beginning
of an era of small, low investment attacks.
# # #
The Dollar, Not The Fed
Remove all the Federal
Reserve's discretion, not just half of it.
By Lawrence A. Hunter, Forbes
Magazine, November 24 2010
The problem with government
is that when it isn't benefiting politicians, bureaucrats and special interests
at the expense of everyone else, its handy work is aimed at the symptoms
of problems rather than at the problems themselves. This misdirection not
only masks the true cause of problems it also exacerbates them, which,
as Ronald Reagan said, makes government part of the problem, not the solution.
The more problems government attempts to solve, the more new problems it
creates for itself to solve, a sort of bureaucratic perpetual motion machine.
The Federal Reserve Board
is a case in point. Ostensibly created to maintain price stability, the
Fed has actually feathered the nest of the banking cartel it created and
produced a century of monetary instability and ancillary economic problems.
By Tait Trussell,Front Page
Magazine, November 24 2010
Large employers who spend
$80 billion a year to insure millions of employees and their families say
ObamaCare is headed
for "collapse." Human resource executives see the law as pushing
employers to drop health coverage. A 28-page analysis
by the Association of Chief Human Resource Officers (ACHRO) finds a majority
believe the law must be repealed or overhauled.
requires employers to offer health insurance to their employees.
If they don’t, they would have to pay a penalty beginning in 2014. But
when McDonald’s and some other employers warned it would be too
expensive to ensure their large ranks of employees, the Secretary
of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued waivers, taking dozens
of companies off the hook, The New York Times and other publications reported.
Preferential treatment for some companies is sure to cause resentment.
Want, and Expect, Repeal
Ave Maria to Help Catholic-Based Legal System Replace Left, Secular Judicial
By Kelly Farrell, NaplesNews.com,
November 16 2010
This school matters, he said,
by replacing the "neutral technology for the redistribution of wealth"
with a morally-based legal system.
"There is no such thing as
a Supreme Court… Between the Executive and Legislative branches, the Judicial
Branch is the weakest of the three branches," Gingrich said. He described
the Supreme Court, current Judicial Branch and U.S. legal system as an
"arrogant, secular and elitist force."
Governors Target Public Employee Unions
Several leaders at
a San Diego conference frame unions as the enemy, and call for trimming
pay and benefits for teachers and others.
From The Los Angeles Times,
November 19 2010
The main opponent mentioned
at the Republican Governors Assn. conference here — described in terms
ranging from misguided to downright evil — is the other party, the Democrats.
But running a close second
are the public employee unions, particularly the teachers unions.
"Frankly," said Minnesota
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, "the public employee unions would stick a shiv in all
of us if they could."
and the New Black Panther Party Litigation
The U.S. Commission on Civil
Non-partisan 144-page report
indicates ongoing DOJ cover-up in Black Panther voter intimidation case
with possible direct participation from Obama White House.
No-Grope List: Look Who Gets a Junk-Touching Exemption
By Michelle Malkin, November
You’ve heard of the "no-fly"
Now get a load of the no-grope
list — a roster of the privileged federal officials and politicians who
don’t have to be subjected to TSA’s grabby hands.
Cabinet secretaries, top
congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are
exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially
with government-approved federal security details.
Aviation security officials
would not name those who can skip the controversial screening, but other
officials said those VIPs range from top officials like Treasury Secretary
Timothy Geithner and FBI Director Robert Mueller to congressional leaders
like incoming House Speaker John Boehner, who avoided security before a
recent flight from Washington’s Reagan National Airport.
The heightened new security
procedures by the Transportation Security Administration, which involve
either a scan by a full-body detector or an intimate personal pat-down,
have spurred passenger outrage in the lead-up to the Thanksgiving holiday
But while passengers have
no choice but to submit to either the detector or what some complain is
an intrusive pat-down, senior government officials can opt out if they
fly accompanied by government security guards approved by the TSA.
Preens Over Publishing Stolen Cables, But Was Snooty Over Swiped Climate-Gate
By Clay Waters, Media Research
Center, November 29, 2010
While the Times managed to
overcome whatever qualms it had against running pieces of the diplomatic
correspondence, bloggers like Scott Hinderaker at Powerline remembered
the paper’s quite different reaction to another trove of sensitive and
damning emails -- the controversy that came to be known as Climategate.
# # #