From: email@example.com (Johann Opitz)
Republicans Losing Libertarian Support
In 2000, I cast my presidential ballot for George W. Bush. It wasn't my proudest moment. But it seemed to me that I didn't really have another viable option. I'm a libertarian who's not all that enthralled with the Libertarian Party. As I saw them, my options at the time were to: ... Libertarians will vote for Republicans when Republicans give them reason to. Republicans aren't "entitled" to my vote any more than Democrats are "entitled" to the votes of African-Americans, or of Greens. Bush today has a rare opportunity. He is a popular president whose party controls both houses of Congress. He's coming off a midterm election that validated his standing with the American people. His next election is a full two years away. If ever there were a time to eschew politics for principle, that time is now. You want libertarian votes, Mr. President? Start earning them.
Young Americans [still] flunk geography
Only one in 7 can find Iraq, National Geographic Society says
Young Americans may soon have to fight a war in Iraq, but most of them can't even find that country on a map, the National Geographic Society said Wednesday. The same goes for Israel or Iran, according to a survey taken for the group that found little to no improvement in students' knowledge of geography since 1988. THE SOCIETY survey found that only about one in seven - 13 percent - of Americans ages 18 to 24 could find Iraq. The score was the same for Iran, an Iraqi neighbor. Although the majority, 58 percent, of the young Americans surveyed knew that the Taliban and al-Qaida were based in Afghanistan, only 17 percent could find that country on a world map. ... The survey asked 56 geographic and current events questions of young people in nine countries and scored the results with traditional grades. The surveyed Americans got a "D," with an average of 23 correct answers. Mexico ranked last with an average score of 21, just three points from a failing grade. Topping the !
scoring was Sweden, with an average of 40, followed by Germany and Italy, each with 38. None of the countries got an "A," which required average scores of 42 correct answers or better on the 56 questions. "If our young people can't find places on a map and lack awareness of current events, how can they understand the world's cultural, economic and natural resource issues that confront us?" John Fahey, president of the National Geographic Society, said in a statement.
Chinese missile has twice the range U.S. anticipated
China recently test-fired a new cruise missile with twice the range U.S. intelligence agencies initially estimated, intelligence officials say. ... China fired a YJ-83 anti-ship cruise missile from a JH-7 fighter-bomber earlier this month over Bohai Bay, off northern China. The test results surprised U.S. intelligence officials. Until recently, the estimated range of the YJ-83 had been assessed to be about 75 miles. The new missile test showed that its range is about 155 miles. ... This weapon is believed by Pentagon officials to be part of Beijing's efforts to develop a long-range strike capability against U.S. aircraft carriers and ships. Officials say the missile represents a new capability for the Chinese military in conducting "over-the-horizon" attacks on U.S. or allied ships in any conflict with China. The YJ-83 is believed to be a derivative of the C-801 anti-ship cruise missile but can travel at supersonic speeds, making it very difficult for ships to stop. Defens!
e specialists say the YJ-83, sometimes called the C-803, also has the capability to receive target information in flight. ...
Pentagon to Track American Consumer Purchases
A massive database that the government will use to monitor every purchase made by every American citizen is a necessary tool in the war on terror, the Pentagon said Wednesday. Edward Aldridge, undersecretary of Acquisitions and Technology, told reporters that the Pentagon is developing a prototype database to seek "patterns indicative of terrorist activity." Aldridge said the database would collect and use software to analyze consumer purchases in hopes of catching terrorists "before they act." Aldridge said the database, which he called another "tool" in the war on terror, would look for telltale signs of suspicious consumer behavior. Examples he cited were: sudden and large cash withdrawals, one-way air or rail travel, rental car transactions and purchases of firearms, chemicals or agents that could be used to produce biological or chemical weapons. It would also combine consumer information with visa records, passports, arrest records or reports of suspicious activity g!
iven to law enforcement or intelligence services. The database is not yet ready and Aldridge said it will not be available for several years. Fake consumer data will be used in development of the database, he said.
[Since intelligence agencies are never honest about their current or near future capabilities, it would be wise to assume that the database already exists and is operational.]
The Third Rail is Dead
In the 20 years since the late House Speaker Tip O'Neill termed Social Security the "third rail of American politics," you were more likely to find politicians attacking Mom or apple pie than talking seriously about Social Security reform. As the national retirement program slipped closer to financial insolvency and the rate-of-return for young workers threatened to turn negative, politicians in Washington alternately turned a blind eye to the program's plight or mindlessly demagogued any whiff of reform. But the 2002 congressional elections may finally have turned off the juice to the third rail and opened the way to Social Security reform.
NYC: The Ultimate Homeless Shelter
New York City Looking At Retired Cruise Ships As Shelters
Desperate for ways to combat a surge in homelessness as winter nears, New York City is looking into whether retired cruise ships could be converted into shelters. The city's commissioner of homeless services and other officials flew to the Bahamas on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's private jet Wednesday to inspect retired ships.
As homelessness grows, even havens toughen up
At precisely 11:55 p.m., Bernardo Discensio pops his pup tent out of a backpack, places it on the curb beneath a streetlight, and crawls inside. "I'm in bed by midnight and up by 5 a.m. when the street sweepers become my alarm clock," says Mr. Discensio, a former aerospace worker now unemployed. Up and down the Third Street Promenade - a premier tourist area of shops, movie houses, and upscale restaurants - doorways and benches are filling with homeless people huddled under blankets. Asked why they migrate to this eight-square-mile seaside hamlet, they offer variations on a theme: It's safer than LA's skid row and social services are better. Here, a population of 88,000 spends $20 per resident on homeless programs each year, compared to 13 cents in sprawling Los Angeles. But across the US, even cities like Santa Monica, long known for strong social consciousness, are trimming their largess - and often getting more aggressive in cracking down on homelessness.
NC: 4th-grader suspended for gun shell in pocket
Campus sponsors 'Camouflage Day,' kicks out boy due to 'zero tolerance'
When 9-year-old Jonathan Cross dressed up in his duck-hunting outfit for his school's Camouflage Day this week, he never dreamed his love for the sport would backfire on him. Covered from head to toe in his gear, the fourth-grader was "a very happy camper," according to his mother, excited to show off his new hunting boots, hat, mesh face mask, shirt, bib, pants and boots. But there was something in his pocket he had forgotten about - a shotgun shell left over from an outing with his father and brothers last weekend. His discovery of the projectile while on campus has left the straight-A student stunned with a five-day suspension, his teachers in tears, and his parents perplexed over the latest case of "zero tolerance" in the government school system.
[Isn't it time to EXPELL the idiots running the public school system?]
Unnamed senators block enviro bill
Lobbyist calls result 'a huge victory for grass-roots activists'
A major environmental bill went down in defeat in the U.S. Senate Wednesday, as proponents failed to persuade certain of their colleagues to remove the "holds" they had placed on it to block its passage. "It's a huge victory for grass-roots activists," exclaimed lobbyist Mike Hardiman, who represents the American Land Rights Association, the group that has spearheaded the opposition to S 990. "It was a genuine grassroots revolution - spontaneous combustion from the bottom up."
ME: Learning in Lewiston
Influx of Somalis has tested Maine city, which is working hard to welcome them
The wave of Somali refugees who have chosen Lewiston as their American home has slowed to a trickle, a top city official said, amid a flood of media scrutiny about the unexpected migration and a surprising plea from Mayor Laurier Raymond that any more immigrants head elsewhere. The number of Somalis, who are African Muslim refugees from a ferocious civil war, has stabilized near 1,100 in this largely white, Roman Catholic city of 37,000 people, said assistant city administrator Phil Nadeau. And the tensions that rose after the mayor's October letter have largely dissipated, according to some Somalis, who credited the city for recent overtures to the immigrants who began arriving in February 2001. The migration, which started with a few Somalis who then invited fellow immigrants who were staying in the Atlanta area, set off worries in Lewiston and some other New England cities that an unexpected influx would overwhelm their services.
Where Republicans invaded Democratic turf
GOP gained among women, unions, Hispanics. A sign for 2004?
Larry Elder: Does the Democratic Party take blacks for granted?
In analyzing the recent Democratic bath in the off-year election, black Representative Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., defeated in her own primary, accused the Democratic Party of "taking black voters for granted." Tavis Smiley, black NPR commentator, made the same assertion while chastising his guest, former Vice President Al Gore, for allegedly committing the same crime. The Democrats-take-black-votes-for-granted argument goes as follows: Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe insulted blacks by failing to provide greater financial assistance to black Democratic New York gubernatorial candidate Carl McCall. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend failed to choose a black running mate, instead selecting a Republican-turned-Democrat. Former Vice President Al Gore insulted blacks in failing to more aggressively challenge allegations of Florida black "voter disenfranchisement." Thus, goes the reasoning, Democrats "take black voters for !
granted." Three points demonstrate the faultiness of this reasoning.
Harry Browne: Do you know what you're voting for?
This past Saturday in the New York Times, John J. Miller condemned Libertarians for taking votes away from Republicans and allowing Democrats to win important elections. He cited three recent U.S. Senate races in which Libertarian candidates won more votes than the margin of victory for the Democrats. And he said:
Libertarians are now serving, in effect, as
Democratic Party operatives. The next time they
wonder why the Bush tax cuts aren't permanent,
why Social Security isn't personalized and why
there aren't more school-choice pilot programs
for low-income kids, all they have to do is look in
Perhaps it never occurred to him that Libertarians are more interested in reducing government than in "Bush tax cuts" that simply redistribute the burden of ever-growing big government. Libertarians want complete freedom from a bankrupt, compulsory retirement scheme - not some campaign-pledge sop from politicians who have done nothing to set them free. And as for "school-choice" programs, most Libertarians have no desire to give the federal government the power to control private schools - the way it now uses vouchers and grants to control government schools and private colleges.
Al Gore thinks he's found the solution for what ails his party --north of the 49th parallel. Last week, as part of the tour for his and Tipper's new pair of books, Gore announced to an audience in New York's Upper West Side that he has now "reluctantly" decided that single-payer health care is the way to go. For non-wonks, ABC's The Note has a pretty good explanation of what that means. "Single payer" it turns out, is one of those euphemisms (like "affirmative action") meant to soothe, confuse and paint opponents in the wors possible light. Under a single payer regime, all money spent on medicine "is collected by some public agency or trust fund, which then pays for comprehensive coverage, delivered privately and publicly, for all citizens." Slate's Mickey Kaus headlined this "policy bombshell," "Gore moves to Canada." Some have expressed shock over Gore's change of mind but they must not have been paying close attention. Gore was more cautious than the early Clintonites, !
whose enthusiasm for socialized health care got Newt Gingrich installed as Speaker of the House. However, during the 2000 election, the former vice president made no bones about wanting to expand the role of government in funding and regulating prescription drugs. He even went so far as to expound on the virtues of, yes, Canada's jerry-rigged, highly regulated prescription drugs industry. ... While many Canadians are indeed happy with their health care -- or at least not so unhappy that they protest -- thousands flee across the border every year to receive life-saving medical treatment such as chemotherapy or surgery to remove cancer. Because Canadian medicine is ultimately driven by the government and not the demands of individuals, shortages of workers and materials are common and lead to rationing. As things stand now, Canadians can crow about their egalitarian system while counting on U.S. health care to bail them out in a pinch. But one wonders where they would go if Al G!
ore ever became president.
NY: Lawyers Claim Big Macs Make Kids Fat
Lawyers File Class-Action Against McDonald's Claiming Its Burgers and Fries Are Making Kids Fat
Are Big Macs hazardous to children's health?
Lawyers have filed a class-action lawsuit against McDonald's on behalf of New York children who have suffered health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. In federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday, a lawyer alleged that the fast-food chain has created a national epidemic of obese children. Samuel Hirsch argued that the high fat, sugar and cholesterol content of McDonald's food is "a very insipid, toxic kind of thing" when ingested regularly by young kids. The plaintiffs include a Bronx teen who ate every meal at McDonald's for three years while living in a homeless shelter. Another is a 13-year-old boy from Staten Island who says he ate at McDonald's food three to four times a week and is now 5-foot-4 and 278 pounds.
Global Issues on the UN Agenda
[Doesn't UN = "Undermining Nations"?]
Bush's strategy digs a bottomless hole
If the Bush administration gets its way, defense spending next year will be $394 billion, or about $100 billion higher than in Bill Clinton's final year. The United States has the most powerful military on earth. We now spend six times more on defense than the next 15 countries combined. And you know what? It's not enough. Despite the swelling budget, there is still a big gap between our resources and the administration's ambitions. The president's new strategy proclaims that we're not only going to meet any military challenge that may arise, but we may attack any country we see as a developing threat. If we're serious about that, even an unlimited budget won't suffice. The administration gives us a glimpse of what to expect. The president's budget calls for piling spending increases upon spending increases, boosting national defense outlays to $442 billion by 2007 -- up by nearly 50 percent from 2000.
FedEd: Anti-Gun Agenda of Government Schools
FedEd is a book by Allen Quist, a former Minnesota state legislator, university professor, farmer and education activist. FedEd: The New Federal Curriculum and How It's Enforced is a book all Second Amendment defenders should read. You will see clearly how the federal government has more firmly than ever taken over local education. Having done so, the agenda for a New World Order is being crammed down our throats. ... Quist cites the number of times various topics appear in the National Standards for Civics and Government produced by the Center to guide curricula, textbook and test content. The Standards are the result of the 1998 law. He found the following number of references: environment, 17; multiculturalism, 42; First Amendment, 81; Second Amendment, 0. ...
Ron Paul: The Homeland Security Monstrosity
Congress spent just a few short hours last week voting to create the biggest new federal bureaucracy since World War II, not that the media or even most members of Congress paid much attention to the process. Yet our most basic freedoms as Americans - privacy in our homes, persons, and possessions; confidentiality in our financial and medical affairs; openness in our conversations, telephone, and Internet use; unfettered travel; indeed the basic freedom not to be monitored as we go through our daily lives - have been dramatically changed. The last time Congress attempted a similarly ambitious reorganization of the government was with the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947. Back then, congressional hearings on the matter lasted two years before President Truman finally signed legislation. Even after this lengthy deliberation, however, organizational problems with the new department lasted more than 40 years! What do we expect from a huge bureaucracy conceived vir!
tually overnight, by a Congress that didn't even read the bill that creates it? Surely more deliberation was appropriate before establishing a giant new federal agency with 170,000 employees!
Surveillance law permits 'black-bag' searches, phone-bugging
They have broken into homes, offices, hotel rooms and automobiles. Copied private computer files. Installed hidden cameras. Listened with microphones in one couple's bedroom for more than a year. Rummaged through luggage. Eavesdropped on telephone conversations. It's the FBI, operating with permission from a secretive U.S. court in a high-stakes effort pitting the nation's premier law enforcement agency against the world's spies and terrorists. Most Americans never see this side of the FBI.