Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ending Thoughts for 2007

Ok, it's still a day or so away from 2008, and after reading the newspapers on a nice winter day in paradise, nice meaning cold (for here), cloudy, sometimes rainy, and windy but sometimes bright sunshine. But that's life in paradise in the winter, especially a nice day. Ok, onward. I updated my normal blog with posts about Evelyn Glennie and end of year thoughts. So, now I'll write about some end of year news.

First, copying music. The RIAA is suing people who buy a CD, copy it to their computer and rip copies for friends. I'm sorry, to me, this is fair and reasonable use of a purchased product. And the RIAA is focusing on computer made copies, but neglect the full capabilities sound studios have with their equipment. Even my home stereo system.

I have studio quality components in my stereo and can copy CD's direct without a computer using a CD player to CD writer. In addition I can copy to a studio DAT recorder overriding the copy prohibit tags on the CD and then make as many edited or direct copy CD's as I want or need for friends. And all the laws protecting studios for their work protects me. So why make the distinction about using computer when studios now use them as the storage and processing medium?

Second, ATV's. The New York Times has an excellent article on the damage ATV's are doing in the name of recreation. What do these people think when the environment has been so damaged by ATV's there's nowhere else to go? And they say their money allows them to do this? What don't they understand about public land in the public, all of us, interest?

Third, the surge. It's working, sorta', according to General Patreas. But he can't promise much and said the north is now the dangerous area. I don't know but I suspect it only works as long as US troops are handy. So, will we really be able to drawdown the troop level without resurrecting the violence, maybe not from Al Qeada but insurgents, criminals and ethnic groups? Or will the support we leave in terms of money, arms, training, intelligence, etc. come back to haunt or hurt us?

Fourth, saw an interesting cartoon about religious extremist taking over control in some "foreign" countries, except it mentions Romney and Huckebee. What's the saying about more truth said in jest? We've already have had a religious leader and look what he's done to the country and our international reputation? Do we need a Mormon or a preacher too? Do we really want a President who invokes the Bible more often than the Constitution, Bill of Rights or the laws of this country?

Fifth, we're losing access to our government and all its secrets. We all know the history of documents taken out of public view for little or no reason and FOIA requests being delayed almost indefinitely or simply ignored by the Bush Administration. And now the President is not liking the bipartisan backed OPEN Government act because it not oly reasserts FOIA but adds new provisions for more oversight and more power to the people requesting documents.

Gee, you would think he doesn't trust us, or is that we don't trust him and he's afraid we're right?

Sixth, earmarks. While the President was lambasting Congressional earmarks, even when Congress reduced them to the lowest since the Clinton administration and 43% from 2006-07 republican budget, he was asking for $24B for a Laura Bush Library and $16B for abstinence-only sex education. And he asked the Departments not to act on any project funded as an earmark unless there is specific legislation in the appropriation bills (earmarks are usually committee rreports or letters attached to appropriations bills).

I'm sorry George, what's good for Congress as you've approved for six years under the Republicans and good for your pet projects is good for the Democrats. After all they spent less on them than the previous six years of your administration.

Parting jesture? Have a good and safe New Year's celebration. Watch our for other drivers and use a designated driver or take a cab if you want to celebrate. Ok? I want to be safe too as everyone else does. And lastly, be cool. Everyone just wants to enjoy the time, not make arguments or get into fights. Can we do that?

And remember, it's how you see the world with a smile that matters.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto

I can't begin to say what this Slide Show and voice over says about the assassination and NY Times article about her and Pakistan today. It's clear from what I've read so far, despite her flaws, the country of Pakistan and the world lost someone critically important for peace and stability. All we can do now is hope for the people of Pakistan. And the President Musharraf and his government have a lot of questions to answer for why she wasn't protected. He owes the world an answer.

And to all the political candidates, don't cite any really stupid rhetoric until we know the truth. We don't need more campaign punditry for your political gain and votes. I won't listen.

Quick thought about Pakistan

I've been reading the news stories and listening to the radio news and interview shows, namely NPR and PRI, and the issue about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan raises a question. When the dust settles on the background to those involved with her assassination and the man who shot her, and we find connections to the group to the Taliban and/or other groups, and eventually to Musharraf's government and himself, what are all the politicians going to say then?

When the Musharraf government refused the help of the FBI and Scotland Yard to investigate the first bombing with Bhutto, it makes me wonder why they would do that. Maybe because they might find evidence that links the bombing to the Musharraf government and with the arms the US supplied or bought with the money the Bush administration provided? And why will they refuse to allow the FBI and Scotland Yard to do it with the assassination? Maybe the same reason?

I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see where the assassination wasn't a isolated effort by a terrorist group. She had too much security for a man on a motorcycle to get through and close enough to shoot her and blow himself up. Something doesn't look right, and I think it's not all that it appears. What will George Bush do and say when it's discovered Musharraf's government had a hand in the assassination with ties, and maybe even providing support, to the group?

And what about the election? Can it be a free and fair election, especially in the areas controlled by the Taliban or other groups the government has little interest or safe access to? And if Musharraf is re-elected without any opposition and maintains control of their parliament, is it really a representative government? And the view of the US when we announce our support for his government and leadership?

Is this the type of government Bush talks about when he says the US supports democratic nations? It's our history to support non-democratic governments, even overthrowing elected ones or supporting the military overthrow of civilian governments. When we try to support democratic governments we tend to find they're anti-US and our international policies, and we have to covertly plan its overthrow.

And why would Pakistan be any different? It's a wait and see what happens, and in the end, I'll bet things remain the same and the US will continue as we have. We want the appearance of a stable government we like who does our bidding enough to accept our money. Like Musharraf in Pakistan.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

End of the Year Thoughts

If you're not familar with these post I write about the news of the world, it's very simple. I collect stories from the news or ideas I see or hear and write about them, usually a paragraph or two with links and/or questions. It's more a sample than the totality that passed my brain which I think are interesting, angering, or humorou - sometimes all three at once. They're in no particular order, priority or importance, just a pile of notes and cutout articles.

And so the end of the year thoughts?

Well, the obvious, Iraq. We're making deals with the 60- or so Sunni tribal Sheiks in el Anbar province to fight Al Qeada. And we're declaring this war a success. Ok, but the fight against Al Qeada isn't the biggest problem, which can appear to be as the violence has subsided there. Why? Because the Sunni now dominate everything with our backing and power. And we've given them money and arms to do that. They've replaced the insurgents, criminals and Al Qeada.

The news story suggested while it may be good in the short run, and only took us 4-plus years to figure it out, it may not work in the long run because we're establishing them as an autonomous government against the Shiia-lead central government. We're doing the same in the north with the Kurds too, even while we're condoning Turkey's fight with the PKK there. And we're doing it in the south and east and in Baghdad with the Shiia-lead tribes and groups to fight the insurgents and criminals.

We're establishing three almost autonomous regions with little oversight and control by a central government essential to the longer term stability of Iraq. And it doesn't answer two questions.

First, what happens when we leave with our checkbook? Or are we setting it up that we'll be there for years if not decades to maintain the balance against the competing forces? Is this what we were sold when we approved the war? Is this in the best interest of this country? And what if the next President decides a change in direction? Or will he/she really have the nerve to tell the Iraqis we're leaving? Or will he/she have to sell us the same story George did about the war on terrorism?

Second, what happens when the regions collide with the central government? Are we really building a nation or nations within a nation and hoping for the best. Are we really understanding what will happen when the reality of the issues hits the ground and they have to make the decisions and agreements about their future? Without a real leader and strong government, who will win control or will they and it descends into a civil war with the same money and arms we gave them? And our troops are in the middle of what?

Earmarks. Gotta love ole George about these. He whined all this fall about them and the democratically controlled Congress, to reduce them by half. Half of what? It's half of all those republican earmarks he didn't whine one second about and signed all the funding bills. For six Congressional sessions he did this as they rose to their greatest level in history, with his blessing.

And the Democrats almost did what they promised, cut them by 43% instead of their target 50%, back to the level in the Clinton era. And George whines? For what? He's the biggest spender in history and he complains about the spending Democrats?

And now he has asked the Office of Management and Budget to find a way to avoid actually spending the money. And he's instructed the agencies not to work on those projects in the earmarks. Huh? He's acting like a father disciplining the younger teenagers for the bad habits of the older teenagers. Go figure.

Other news? Merry Christmas to those 65 and older. The courts have ruled you can lose your company health insurance forcing you to Medicare Plan B whether you like it or not, and have problems filling the gap of coverage and costs, or hope you can get supplemental insurance. The story mentioned only about a third in this country have company sponsored health insurance and about a tenth have it after 65.

So, we can expect Medicare to increase as companies get out of this to pawn it off to the taxpayers. And if you're a young, especially republican, is that what you thought about with your tax money? Paying your grandparents healthcare? Well, you will even more as my generation gets older and over 64 to move to Medicare.

Personally I had planned to avoid Plan B with my health coverage and will now have to see what happens. But hey, it's your money I'm spending.

Chinese products. China exports a lot of products to southeast Asia, like Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, especially the rural areas and towns. And the people buying them are complaining about the bad quality of the Chinese products compared to Japanese and other nation's products. It seems we're not the only ones complaining about the quality despite the price.

Passing thought renewed, 5 Myths about Terrorism.

Pakistan. It's in the news and I wish the people of Pakistan. My thoughts? My bet is that Musharraf has his out to declare marshall law, delay the election for a year or more and keep control of the country. He wants and likes our money too much not to do this to "preserve the peace in his country." George likes him because he's a non-democratically elected leader (we love them more than elected ones) who is "America's ally in the fight against terrorism.". The Taliban likes him because he keeps the US out of their controlled terrorities in Pakistan. And the military likes him because he keeps the money rolling in (since they also own many of the major industries) to provide the weapons to control the people.

As one analysist said, "How else is there now who can rival him?"

American Apparel. A very good and interesting company, but they put an ad in the NY Times about immigration. While I agree with some of their views, they still miss the main point in the discussion about immigration, which is intentionally clouded by the immigration groups on both sides. And that is? The distinction between legal and illegal immigrants.

No one is arguing against legal immigrants, and maybe we need a better policy for more and better oversight so everyone is counted and paying. The argument is about the illegal ones. So let's keep the eye on the issue and appropriate solutions. And not the political rhetoric. Or at least when someone talks about it, ask them to clarify their definitions of the words and differences between these two.

Ok, final thought. A real touchy issue. Al-Jazeera TV in the US. They have a new english channel modelled after the BBC. They've interviewed many distinguished western leaders, including US leaders, and run objective, realistic documentaries on the issues. So why are the satelitte companies refusing to carry them and only one cable company, Comcast, refuse? And even Comcast backed out citing customer disapproval.

Why? What are we afraid of? Freedom of speech? Like we've been getting it so far about the middle East? I for one applaud their effort to bring us different views and footage about the war. I'm open to listening and seeing. Are you?

Parting jesture. After the recent flooding in western Washington, an interesting article on landslides. View the larger image too. Still want to believe that clearcuts don't harm the environment? Like this mountain will come back quickly after all the soil has been eroded?

Have a good and safe holiday, and I'll see you next year.

WSR - Updated Website

I've updated my Website for the holiday season and next year. I hope ya'll find something enjoyable, and if not, so be it. It's why we're all different in the world and have our own experiences, perspectives and opinions. To some it's trash, to some recycled stuff and to some ok if not a "Hmmm..." in your life.

The major revision was moving some blogs from other Websites to here and working on small changes in the design, mostly the navigation bar under the logo. I still have a new design in the thought and idea stage, but haven't figured it out yet, let alone learn the software to do it. Hopefully in 2008 I'll get some of it done.

Anyway, have a good and safe holiday.


This is the first post and introduction to my WSR Photography news and opinion blog. I like to write short essays in two different veins, one, news about my photography Website, where you can get more information from my other Webblog, and two, about the news of the day.

You can get more information about me from the links on the first Web page to this blog or from my Web page. In addition, posts which have "WSR" in the beginning of the subject will be about my Website, and everything else will be about the news of the day as I see, hear or read about it. And remember first and foremost, it's just my opinion, and just like yours, an opinion.

To begin with I read a lot of newspapers, which I explain here about using a notepad and scissors. Everything I write about is from the major news sources, such as from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other newspapers, from NPR, PRI and other radio stations, from magazines, and from CNN and other television news stations.

Also, this blog is a transfer of my year's posting on MySpace page which is ok, but not really set up for routine columns and blogs on the world. It's not a complaint about MySpace, ok it is, but then it has its audience and advantages. Mostly I will use it to contact other friends who have their own pages there instead of writing posts. And besides I really got tired of the over-hyped login pages and ads for innane things.

So, I'm off, and you're always welcome to enter comments if you're a member of eBlogger.