I wish all of you a great summer!
This has two key benefits. First, it shows that we reward nations for good behavior. Second, it will also eventually put more oil on the market (Libya's oil production is about half of what is was before Gadhafi consolidated his power and lead his country down the terrorist path).
Libya still has a long way to go before they are fully trusted again. President Bush is being careful to keep some restrictions on Libya – I imagine he will carefully remove them as Libya continues to improve. However, it is nice to see some progress.
Libya serves as a dramatic counterpoint to Syria who continues to resist the war on terror. So three days ago, President Bush waved a stick in their direction by creating an executive order forbidding all American companies from selling goods to Syria other than food or medicine.
I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, hereby determine that the actions of the Government of Syria in supporting terrorism, continuing its occupation of Lebanon, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining United States and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.Wretchard has some interesting comments on how this action continues to put pressure on the traditional Sunni leaders. I do not know enough about these politics to judge, but Wretchard's comments seem reasonable. For my part, I think Bush also timed this to closely follow the events in Libya. Bush continues to use both the carrot and the stick in his war on terror, at least the part that is visible to onlookers. I strongly believe that President Bush is also using the stick and the carrot behind the scenes, but if this is done properly, we will never hear of it - at least not for twenty-five years or so.
We do indeed live in interesting times.
Greenpeace had even staged the grisly killing of a baby seal just to make a fundraising film that purported to show how bad fishermen were killing baby seals. Note: I verified this fact from other sources.
When presented with the truth about Greenpeace, Brazilians voted to build a new nuclear power plant and the Greenpeace organization in Brazil was devastated. (this quote from the second link).
In the following days, the president of Greenpeace Brazil was fired, and in the next two months, Greenpeace declared to the press that its income had dropped to 10 percent of the preceding year, even less than 10 percent.Intrigued by this, I went looking for more insight into how Greenpeace worked. Were Greenpeace's unethical actions in Brazil, and in the making and continued distribution of their film (where they tortured a seal as an example of how they thought bad fishermen killed seals) indicative of the organization as a whole? Unfortunately, it looks like the answer is yes. Paul Watson, was the co-founder of Greenpeace. Listen to his words:
The secret to David McTaggart's success is the secret to Greenpeace's success: It doesn't matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.... You are what the media define you to be. [Greenpeace] became a myth, and a myth-generating machine.After growing disgusted at Greenpeace's unethical behavior, Watson left the organization and founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. A brief internet search did not turn up any scandals related to this organization.
According to the same link, German donors to Greenpeace have been unknowingly lining the pockets of Greenpeace members instead of improving the environment. German publications have carried revelations of millions of marks of donations being funneled into Greenpeace savings accounts rather than used to fight pollution.
Basic Conclusions: 1) Treat all news coming from Greenpeace with a large dose of salt (not that we needed these articles for this conclusion); 2) Greenpeace has major ethical problems; 3) Those who donate to environmental causes should find alternative charities who will hopefully use the money for its intended purpose.
Palestinian sources said it began as a brawl between Hamas activists, who were looking to set up a campaign booth on the university grounds, and Fatah youth, who wanted to stop them.I really feel sorry for anyone raised in Palestine. I believe the Israeli strategy of walling out terrorists will greatly reduce the number of Israeli citizens killed by terrorists. It will do so by 1) making it harder to commit such an attack and 2) frustrated Palestinians will fight amongst themselves. I have no problems with terrorists killing each other, but I have great sympathy for those raised in an environment which makes suicide attacks look attractive.
The brawl and shouting match soon turned into a knife fight, the sources said, adding a large group of Fatah activists then arrived on the scene and set fire to furniture and office equipment belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad opposition groups on campus. Shortly thereafter, the gunfight began.
Four of the injured sustained gunshot and knife wounds and were evacuated to city hospitals.
At least stories like this one provide some hope. I think the Israeli security guards, constantly on edge after literally generations of suicide attacks, should be commended for not shooting the reluctant suicide bomber.
First, here are Erma's thoughts on how some mothers are chosen. The person at this link captured some of her many quips. I remember reading some of her books as a teen. A few of the titles still stick with me such as The Grass Looks Greener over the Septic Tank and If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, Why am I Always in the Pits. I thought they were a riot then. Now that I'm married and have kids, I should pick up some of her later books.
At any rate, this seemed like a good weekend to share these thoughts. Happy Mother's Day!
In the US, anything that is not explicitly prohibited is allowed.I know parents in the US who follow the EU strategy when it comes to raising their children. This quote is from Lucy. I found it at Sand in the Gears.
In the EU, anything is that is not explicitly allowed is prohibited.
About five minutes ago, I informed our children that they were only allowed to call each other by their given first name. Period. Because they can think up their own "bad" names quicker than I can ban them!From a parent's perspective, this strategy may make sense. Adults are wiser and more experienced than children and parents may find it easier to limit what their children are allowed to do instead of placing limits on what they are not allowed to do. However, once a child grows up, he is recognized as an adult and given the same rights and responsibilities as other adults. In the European Union, the EU believes it is wiser and more experienced than its citizens and prohibits its citizens from anything that is not specifically allowed. Even my UK friends do not have permission to buy grape tomatoes since grape tomatoes have not yet been specifically approved by EU bureaucrats. (And no, the grape tomato is not a genetically enhanced food, it is a simple hybrid that simply wasn't very popular when the EU made their rules.)
The US has plenty of people who want to imitate the European nanny state for some reason. Fortunately, they are a minority. In a world with finite resources, I can think of little more wasteful than paying bureaucrats to tell me what I am allowed to do.
Much of what Donald Rumsfeld calls "Old Europe" would prefer John Kerry to be our next president. They are very unhappy with President Bush and miss President Clinton. North Korea, Russia, China, and many Middle Eastern rulers would privately (or not so privately) cheer should President Bush lose in November. Folks who are either satisfied with the status quo, or at a minium, don't want the boat rocked too much.
When I thought about those who supported President Bush, I thought about those who have fresh memories of oppression. Those in Eastern Europe, who remember the heavy Soviet thumb, are rooting for President Bush. Many Iraqis, who have seen family members tortured by Saddam and his goons, fear the US could withdraw from Iraq as quickly as the Spanish should Kerry win. These too are rooting for President Bush.
I was motivated to write this post after receiving an email from a friend of mine. It has been well circulated, but originated with a man who tells of his experience at multi-denominational convention for pastors.
I recently attended the National Pastors Convention in San Diego with several thousand pastors from many different denominations. During one of the general sessions, the Master of Ceremonies introduced a pastor from Uzbekistan. He had traveled the farthest to attend the convention. I don't remember his name, and even if I did, I know I couldn't pronounce it. However, I do know this: I will never forget this man.Before posting this story, I looked up the Church of the Living Christ and called to verify the email. The woman who answered the phone verified that Rev. Lair had sent out his notes from the convention and provided additional verification.
Right away, I liked him. He was humble, sincere, and gracious. He apologized for his broken English, though I thought he spoke very well. As the MC interviewed him, he began to share about his ministry in his country that borders Afghanistan. He talked about the church he pastors of a few hundred people. He also shared how it is illegal in his country to be a Christian. You see, his church is an "underground" church. Amazingly, his city also has 3 "underground" Christian schools. He talked about how the Christians have been arrested and even killed in his country.
Then, as the interview was about to end, he began to speak very urgently and passionately. He said something to this effect: "I would like all of you to know that my church and the Christians in my country are praying that President Bush will be reelected."
I was stunned. I knew that this gathering had to include many pastors from all over the political spectrum and I was certain this would not go over well. Immediately, there were murmurings and rumblings throughout the audience and the MC seemed a little uncertain about what to do next.
However, this pastor would not be denied. Grasping the microphone firmly in his hand, he continued, "The officials in my country are afraid of President Bush, so they don't persecute Christians as much. Under Clinton it was very bad for us. Many of us were arrested, put in jail, and some were killed. With Clinton, it was very bad. But under President Bush, it has been so much better, so we are praying for him."[boldness added]
The murmuring ended. It was suddenly very quiet. The MC paused. Then he just asked us to stand and pray for this man and we did so with great passion.
Choking back tears, I was immediately struck with this realization in my heart: this coming election was not just about me or my church or my country. This coming election would affect the entire world. And while there are many Christians and churches in this country that may not support our current President, there is a group of Christians halfway around the world who are desperately praying for his reelection.
All of the sudden, the election became something very different for me. It is not just about the economy, gay marriage, or weapons of mass destruction. It's about the persecuted church around the world. As believers, what issues should be more important to us? This transcends politics. This is about the Kingdom of God! For which Christ suffered and died, and for those believers in other countries who are suffering and dying as well.
I was also convicted in my heart about praying for our President. And I wonder, which church is praying more fervently for him: the persecuted church in Uzbekistan or the prosperous church in America? It makes you think.
As the Apostle Paul said in Hebrews 13:3, "Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."
Remember, this election is not just about us. It's about them.
Rev. James Lair
Resurrection Lutheran Church
Church of the Living Christ
So another group of oppressed people are literally praying for President Bush's victory this November. Come November 2, I will think of the oppressed people of the world, including the brave pastor from Uzbekistan, when I cast my vote for President Bush.
Sadly HDTV will be a crock. It always pays better to use the multiplex to send more game shows rather than good content (say 4 game shows to one Morse?) AQ can probably back me up on that one.After writing a lengthy reply to him, I decided that this might be of interest to more people. So here is a discussion of why HDTV will succeed in the United States. I am deliberately trying to keep things simple for this discussion, so I will limit myself to a brief overview of the technology before I discuss the business case for High Definition Television.
First, let me define terms and technology. Standard resolution is what you see on traditional sets. In most of the Americas, Japan, and a few other places, we use the NTSC standard with approximately 480 lines of horizontal video resolution at 30 frames per second. In most of Eurasia and Australia, they use PAL with about 576 lines of horizontal video resolution and 25 frames per second. If you are used to PAL, NTSC television looks wrong because it has lower resolution than PAL. If you are used to NTSC, PAL looks cheap because it flickers. (The amount of light in a room also impacts whether or not a person perceives flicker. This is why movie film uses 24 frames per second. Film is expensive and way back when it was invented Thomas Edison figured out that 24 frames per second was as slow as they could safely go, in a dark room, without people seeing flicker). The brighter the room, the faster the images must be displayed in order to prevent most people from seeing flicker.
High definition is mostly used to refer to resolutions of over 1,000 lines of horizontal resolution. The American digital standard (ATSC) uses 1080 lines of horizontal resolution for its highest resolution format. It also provides for a medium resolution format of 720 lines of resolution. Some folks (most those marketing sets that run at 720 lines of resolution) also call this high definition.
Television can be transmitted in analog format or digital format. This is independent of whether or not it is standard definition or medium definition. For example, the Japanese invented high definition analog television decades ago. However, when an American standard was developed, it was decided to make it a digital standard. For the amount of bandwidth allocated for digital television, a broadcaster can transmit four channels at standard resolution or one channel at high definition.
One last set of terms and then I can proceed to the business case for HDTV. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has required terrestrial broadcasters (those who send out signals that you can receive via an antenna) to move to the digital television (DTV) standard by 2006 on a very specific timetable (non-public broadcasters in large markets were required to start broadcasting a few years ago). Since DTV (digital television) is a broad term that includes cable and satellite, the acronym DTT was developed and stands for Digital Terrestrial Television.
When the ATSC standard was developed, there was a lot of controversy over which video format to use. The FCC ended up mandating an audio standard (AC-3; otherwise known as Dolby Digital), but finally left the video format up to the broadcaster. The market will determine if broadcasters end up transmitting high-definition or standard-definition content. So let's look at the options from both a terrestrial broadcaster and a consumer perspective.
Given a choice between broadcasting a high definition channel or four standard definition channels, what has more market appeal? The last time I checked (about 5 years ago), 85% of American households already subscribed to cable, satellite, or both. Thus a few more channels is of very little market value from a consumer perspective. The terrestrial players (especially ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and PBS.) who despise what cable has done to their market share have a built in bias against splitting the TV market even further (with the exceptions being Fox and ABC whose corporate families include many cable channels - thus their initial support for standard definition).
Once the terrestrial broadcasters got passed their initial emotions and looked at the market, they saw they could collect very little by having additional channels. Sure, they could collect a bit more by having more channels, but at the cost of splitting their main audience even more. Instead, they desired a way to make their offering more compelling, to increase their audience size. So they are putting most of their eggs into HDTV. Not only does this make sense strategically, they win even when their competition imitates them with their own high definition offerings. For example, some non-terrestrial networks are offering HDTV via satellite and cable (e.g., HBO, Showtime, ESPN, Discover, etc.). Whenever a cable or satellite company provides this service, it prevents them from offering 4 other channels. (5 in actuality, because the service provider still has to offer standard definition HBO for most of their customers). So by making HDTV the new standard for quality, the terrestrial networks are forcing other service providers (cable, satellite) to either offer a lower quality offering or offer less programming (so they compete against less shows). Either way is good for the terrestrials.
Now the government is forcing the terrestrials to move from analog (NTSC) to digital (ATSC) by 2006. There is a lot of talk about giving the broadcasters more time, but I haven't heard as much of that recently. Part of that is because I'm no longer in the industry, but part of it makes business sense. Why run two expensive broadcasting systems (analog and digital) when only 15% of your audience only uses terrestrial reception? By law, the cable companies have to carry your signal anyway (and they'll convert it to analog) and the satellite companies also will continue to offer an option for old sets. So the smart move is to cut and run in 2006 and point all unhappy consumers to the government. The government can handle it (even if all 15% complained, the other 85% won't care) and can talk about all the benefits of freeing up the analog spectrum. But this is the only part of our discussion on American television where I am not sure of the outcome. 2006 is an election year (stupid planning on the part of the FCC) so congressmen and 1/3rd of our senators (six year term, approximately 1/3rd up for reelection every two years) may be very sensitive to complaints. So I wouldn't bet on 2006 even though it is the smart play.
In parts of the world where the average consumer has access to less than 20 channels, the case for HDTV may be far less compelling. These consumers may benefit more from more content instead of better content. Without question, content providers in these markets will make more money with more channels than by improving their existing content. However, once the majority of these consumers also have access to many channels, then the case for HDTV will also become compelling to them. The ready access of HDTV movies from America will also be a driver for the sale of HDTVs. (HD discs are not on the market yet; but they will be soon. I don't expect to see much publicity about them for a while because the content providers fear many people would stop buying as many DVDs and wait a few years to buy HD versions of their favorite movies.)
In summary, HDTV makes business sense in US environment where the overwhelming majority of consumers have access to many channels. It does not make business sense in parts of the world where the average consumer does not have access to many channels. As access to many channels goes up (and as the price of HDTV displays drops), the business case for HDTV improves.
Fortunately, there is an easy way to prevent it from affecting you. Go to Microsoft's Windows Site and download the latest security updates. You should do this on a regular basis. If you are just concerned about the Sasser Worm, you can also try this option.
Electronic voting is too open to fraud without a paper trail. I appreciate the advantages of electronic voting and support it, so long as the process also generates a paper trail in such a way that the voter sees the paper receipt before he leaves the facility. This is not difficult to implement (colleges have been using scan forms for many decades) and would prevent many potential problems.
Japan's reasoning seems logical and fair and consistent and yet so very, very wrong.Justene is a very nice person, but I think Japan's actions should be applauded, not denigrated as wrong. Right now the US is advising all non-essential Americans to leave Saudi Arabia. Let's say 4 Americans enter Saudi Arabia next week despite this strong recommendation and get kidnapped by terrorists.
Should the rest of us should pick up the tab if our government can save them and fly them home?
For my part, I'd like my government to try to save them. But I certainly hope we'd bill these folks for at least part of the expense. Their foolhardy actions would be wasting our taxes. The least they could do is cover a small portion of the costs they incurred. (I say small portion, because neither Japan or the US seems to ever charge the actual costs for rescuing foolish citizens. Even the time of just one high-level negotiator is worth many hundreds of dollars per hour and the efforts to rescue foolish folks involves many people).
My thoughts are also guided by my belief that actions should have consequences. If those who foolishly rush into trouble are always bailed out by their governments, are not we endorsing and enabling similar behavior in the future?