Thanks to everyone who sent in tips today. I apologize for not using them, but I hardly got a chance to read the mail.
And many thanks to those who sent donations. Blessings on you.
These are odds and ends I collected during the day. Maybe tomorrow morning I’ll start on the mail and extract the tips in time to use them. Heavens to Betsy I don’t know how the Baron does this. My gluteus maximus is sore from sitting in front of this screen. This calls for a level of geekdom that I will never attain.
And now for the news – or rather, what I happened to notice in the news…this is the Random News Department:
Washington is hooked on subsidy programs
Most people know that federal spending and budget deficits are soaring. But an equally troubling trend is that the government is funding a growing array of activities that used to be left to state governments, businesses, charities, and individuals. An increasing part of American society is suckling on the federal subsidy teat.
The…chart shows that there are 1,804 federal subsidy programs, and hundreds of these were added this decade. The data comes from the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, an official listing of all federal subsidies, including grants, loans, insurance, scholarships, and other types of benefits. [be sure to look at the pretty pie chart at CFDA – D]
The CFDA was created in the 1960s because politicians needed a guide to help their constituents access all the new benefits under Great Society programs. By 1970, there were 1,019 federal subsidy programs, and the number rose further in late-1970s before being cut back in the early 1980s under President Ronald Reagan.
The number of subsidies started expanding again in the late-1980s, but leveled out in the late-1990s as Congress briefly restrained the budget. This decade, budget restraint has vanished and the number of subsidy programs has exploded 25 percent.
More than 800 of the 1,804 subsidy programs are grants to state and local governments-including everything from K-12 education aid to highway funding. Those are useful activities, of course, but experience shows that when funding gets kicked up to the federal level the result is excess bureaucracy and the misallocation of spending based on pork barrel politics.[…]
Time to trim those 1,804 programs and turn the states loose. Becoming unhooked from the federal teat will be traumatic, but so is getting clean from any addiction
Other stories are below the fold. Be sure to check out the millions that the US is giving Chinese prostitutes to teach them to drink “responsibly”. Lord love a duck, the only way to get through a job like that is to be as insensible as possible.
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Swine flu spreading too fast to count, CDC says
Swine flu is spreading so far and fast in the U.S. that state health officials may soon stop counting individual cases, a federal health official said Monday.
The novel H1N1 virus accounted for 40 percent of flu viruses logged in the U.S. in the past week and helped propel an uptick in overall flu-like illnesses, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, a deputy director with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I think the cases we’re confirming are the tip of the iceberg here,” Schuchat said in a press briefing Monday.
The CDC has confirmed more than 2,000 cases in 43 states and Washington D.C., with 94 hospitalizations and three deaths. Another 700 cases are suspected. Although the flu is spreading quickly, it remains relatively mild in the U.S., say health officials.
“They tell us for sure this virus is circulating throughout the United States and it’s likely to be in every state,” Schuchat said, adding: “It’s a time when we really need to guard against complacency as we move to a new normal.”
The CDC has started tracking the novel virus using the surveillance system used for seasonal influenza, called FluView.
Because many states did not report cases over the past weekend, Schuchat said she expects a big jump in cases to be reported Tuesday.[…]
the site has a map showing the spread of the swine flu. The darker the color, the more cases. The states that are deep maroon are widely spread out. Is this due to better reporting?
Lily-Livered Europe Has Surrendered to Islam,says Ayaan Hirsi Ali
“In 2006, I had a debate with Tariq Ramadan, the author of Western Muslims and the future of Islam. In the hypothetical event of a war between Egypt and Switzerland, for which community would he be prepared to die, I asked him.
Mr Ramadan has dual citizenship. He’s an Egyptian by birth and a Swiss by naturalisation. His response was one of rage on different levels. Above all I think he was outraged that one should ask such a question. He refused to answer.
Mr Ramadan, like many other Muslims, may have two or more citizenships. From all that he expresses both in person and on paper, it is clear that his loyalty, above all, is to Islam. I do not doubt that he would die for Islam, like most Muslims, and that’s his prerogative. But what European countries have done is give citizenship to individuals who feel no obligation to share in their societies for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer and in the event of a catastrophe, sacrifice themselves.
In this way, they evade one of the chief criteria of citizenship. Political allegiance to the constitution of your country is the minimum requirement. It is this state of affairs that makes Christopher Caldwell’s book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration and the West (Allen Lane, £17.99), which opens with the sentence, “Western Europe became a multi-ethnic society in a fit of absence of mind,” a chilling read.
This absence of mind, which Caldwell lays bare, is reflected in Europe’s immigration policies and especially in its response to Islam. No debate today is more explosive, more sensitive, more confusing and more frightening than the debate on the future of Islam in Europe.
In March this year, the French intellectual Pascal Bruckner and I spoke about Caldwell’s book. Bruckner said, “Americans [like Caldwell] do not understand Europe. There are many Muslims who, in their daily lives, are more agnostic and in their practices even atheist, but are just Muslim in name.”
This seems to be reassuring. But would these agnostic and unpracticing Muslims, if push came to shove, die for Islam or for France? My guess is they would, most likely, die for Islam.[…]
Unfortunately, Ms. Hirsi Ali would know better than most. The immigrant ghettoes of Europe, where native, ethnic Europeans dare not venture, and the rule of European law has been nullified, are actually encouraged by the suicidal governments who host the parasites which may kill them.
McKiernan out as U.S. head in Afghanistan
U.S. Army Gen. David McKiernan has been asked to resign as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday.
Gates said during a news conference he would recommend that Army Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal replace McKiernan and that Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez be assigned as deputy commander, a new position.
“Today we have a new policy set by our new president. We have a new strategy, a new mission and a new ambassador,” Gates said. “I believe that new military leadership also is needed.”
The decisions were made after consulting with the U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman — also at the news conference — and Army Gen. David Petraeus, Central Command commander, and President Barack Obama’s approval, Gates said.
“I believe my decisions are in the best interest of our national security and the success of our mission in Afghanistan,” Gates said, urging swift Senate confirmation of Gens. McChrystal and Rodriguez.
Timing for replacing McKiernan made sense because the new policy, strategy and mission in Afghanistan were just beginning.
In that context, “I emphasize that the focus here is simply on getting fresh thinking, fresh eyes on the problem and in how we implement the strategy and mission going forward,” Gates said.
He stressed “nothing went wrong” during McKiernan’s 11-month tenure as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Both McChrystal, director of the Joint Chiefs, and Rodriguez, a military assistant to Gates, have experience in counterintelligence, Gates and Mullen said.
for some background on this story see Belmont Club
Sheikh attacks Israel, pope walks out
A leading Palestinian cleric commandeered an evening devoted to interfaith dialogue with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday to rant against Israel for “killing Gaza’s children,” “bulldozing Palestinian homes” and “destroying mosques.”
In an impromptu speech, delivered in Arabic at the Notre Dame Pontifical Institute in Jerusalem, Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, chief Islamic judge in the Palestinian Authority, launched a 10-minute tirade against the State of Israel for confiscating Palestinians’ land and carrying out war crimes against the residents of Gaza.
Following the diatribe and before the meeting was officially over, the pope exited the premises. However, he shook Tamimi’s hand before walking out.
The pope, speaking before Tamimi, discussed the importance of religion and truth for the advancement of humanity’s mutual understanding.
He was visibly uncomfortable with the tone of Tamimi’s discourse. Even those who did not understand his Arabic quickly understood that the Muslim cleric was giving a militant speech.
Several attempts were made by Latin Patriarch in the Holy Land Fouad Twal, a Palestinian, to politely stop Tamimi. But Tamimi would not be deterred from reading his written speech, apparently prepared in advance without the knowledge of the organizers.
When Tamimi finished, applause could be heard from a few dozen in an audience of a few hundred. […]
The bad fairy at the birthday party, if you ask me
Pope in Israel calls for Palestinian homeland
Pope Benedict XVI called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian homeland immediately after he arrived in Israel Monday, a stance that could put him at odds with his hosts on a trip aimed at easing strains between the Vatican and Jews.
The pope also took on the delicate issue of the Holocaust, pledging to “honor the memory” of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide at the start of his five-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Benedict urged Israelis and Palestinians to “explore every possible avenue” to resolve their differences in remarks at the airport after he landed.
“The hopes of countless men, women and children for a more secure and stable future depend on the outcome of negotiations for peace,” he said. “In union with people of goodwill everywhere, I plead with all those responsible to explore every possible avenue in the search for a just resolution of the outstanding difficulties, so that both peoples may live in peace in a homeland of their own within secure and internationally recognized borders.”
While Benedict’s support for a Palestinian homeland alongside Israel is widely shared by the international community, including the United States, it was noteworthy that he made the call in his first public appearance. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the hard-line Likud Party, has pointedly refused to endorse the two-state solution since his election. But he is expected to come under pressure to do so when he travels to Washington next week.
The pope has tried to improve interfaith relations throughout his four-year papacy. But Benedict has had to tread carefully on his Middle East visit after coming under sharp criticism from both Muslims and Jews for past statements. He is hoping his weeklong trip to the Holy Land, which began with three days in neighboring Jordan, will improve interfaith ties.
Maybe Benedict ought to talk to Ms. Hirsi Ali. She could tell him about the futility of “improving interfaith ties” with people who have been slaughtering those of other faiths for more than a millenium. They don’t do interfaith dialogue. Not unless it involves an infidel’s head at the business end of a sword. The kindest thing you could call his visit is quixotic
Obama more popular than U.S. among Arabs: survey
President Barack Obama’s popularity in leading Arab countries far outstrips that of the United States, suggesting he could be able to boost goodwill in the region toward his country, a survey showed on Sunday.
Obama, set to give a major speech to the Muslim world in Egypt next month, “currently enjoys widespread optimism among citizens of that region that he will have a positive effect on their own country, the Middle East, the United States and indeed the world,” the polling outfit Ipsos said.
Ipsos said its poll, conducted in March, involved 7,000 adults in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.
Of those surveyed, 33 percent had a favorable view of the United States, 43 percent had a negative view, 14 percent were neutral and 10 percent said they did not know, Ipsos said.
In contrast, Obama received favorable ratings averaging 48 percent in the region as a whole. Approval ran as high as 58 percent in Jordan and was lowest among Egyptians, who gave Obama favorable ratings of 35 percent, Ipsos said.
Only 22 percent of Egyptians expressed a favorable view of the United States, the lowest of the six countries surveyed.
Regionwide, only one in 10 residents thought Obama would have a negative effect on their country, the poll showed.
The gulf between Obama’s popularity and that of the United States indicated “there is an opportunity for the president to literally ‘bridge the gap’ where his reposit goodwill lifts the goodwill toward America,” Ipsos said in statement.
And we want the good will of Arabs, why?? I trust a president the Arabs don’t like. Egypt would be lucky to get 22 per cent of Americans who thought it was worth the aid taken out of our taxes and given to the Eternally Resentful who like to harrass their Christian population. But of course no one is going to poll Americans to ask them what they think of these ingrates. A pox on ‘em
U.S. Will Pay $2.6 Million to Train Chinese Prostitutes to Drink Responsibly on the Job
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will pay $2.6 million in U.S. tax dollars to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job.
Dr. Xiaoming Li, the researcher conducting the program, is director of the Prevention Research Center at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.
The grant, made last November, refers to prostitutes as “female sex workers”–or FSW–and their handlers as “gatekeepers.”
“Previous studies in Asia and Africa and our own data from FSWs [female sex workers] in China suggest that the social norms and institutional policy within commercial sex venues as well as agents overseeing the FSWs (i.e., the ‘gatekeepers’, defined as persons who manage the establishments and/or sex workers) are potentially of great importance in influencing alcohol use and sexual behavior among establishment-based FSWs,” says the NIH grant abstract submitted by Dr. Li.
“Therefore, in this application, we propose to develop, implement, and evaluate a venue-based alcohol use and HIV risk reduction intervention focusing on both environmental and individual factors among venue-based FSWs in China,” says the abstract.
The research will take place in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.
Guangxi is ranked third in HIV rate among Chna’s provinces–and is a place where the sex business is pervasive, Li said.
“The purpose of the project is to try and develop an intervention program targeting HIV risk and alcohol use,” Li told CNSNews.com. “So basically, it’s an alcohol and HIV risk reduction intervention project.”
Maybe they’ll be yet another Chinese export and the U.S. wants to clean them up first. Otherwise, there’d be a recall, right?