Sunday, February 17, 2008
A little more than two years ago, Juliana Rizzo was a real estate agent living in Long Island, N.Y. when she decided it was time to fulfill her childhood dream. That dream was to join the United States Army.
“As a little girl, I always wanted to join the Army, because my father and grandfather spent several years in the military and served their country proudly,”
Even though her leaders said they already were impressed by her work ethic and determination in keeping track of more than $3.5 million worth of unit equipment, Rizzo’s most attention-grabbing performance was yet to come.
“When we were in (Hohenfels, Germany) going through ‘Iron Warrior’ training, she went up to the Iraqi role players and started talking to them in their own language,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Chad Cuomo, “Nobody knew that she spoke Arabic, and it especially shocked the role players; she was definitely the hero of the battle out there.”
Rizzo was promoted to specialist shortly after arriving in Iraq and went to the sergeant’s promotion board four months later.
“I just try to give 100 percent in everything I do,” Rizzo said, “and I always try to do above what is expected of me.”The soon-to-be sergeant is taking online classes toward a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She said she hopes to one day be an Army career counselor or an Arabic linguist.
[just another no-other-option recruit]
Baghdad’s Adhamiya district began planning for the economic future of their areas at seminars providing business-management coaching., The even also introduced these Iraqis to the concept of a market action committee. Such committees have proven successful in nearby neighborhoods within Adhamiya.
"This area is on the edge of an agricultural production area and an urban area," Dose said. "We're here to provide new technology in areas such as food processing and packaging." ... "This whole area has become permissive for us to work with the local leaders," Dose said. "Six months ago, we wouldn't have come here."
In addition to enabling USAID and representatives of other groups to work with the neighborhood business leaders, the market action committees also act as advocates from the business community to local governments.
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell gave his annual national security threat assessment to the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.
Al Qaeda is improving the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S.: the identification, training, and positioning of operatives for an attack in the Homeland. While increased security measures at home and abroad have caused al Qaeda to view the West, especially the U.S., as a harder target, we have seen an influx of new Western recruits into the tribal areas since mid-2006. We assess that al Qaeda's Homeland plotting is likely to continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets designed to produce mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the population.
... al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are attempting to acquire chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons and materials (CBRN). We assess al Qaeda will continue to try to acquire and employ these weapons and materials -- some chemical and radiological materials and crude weapons designs are easily accessible, in our judgment.
[and that's the kicker, so 'distasteful' nobody wants to talk about it: the bad guys are right now working on acquiring WMD, and they'll use them when they get them, and as suicide bombers can't be deterred - they'll need to be be interdicted. To do that, our intelligence communities must be doing anything and everything to that end. I.e., progressive attempts to ham string their efforts technically or in the courts is literally placing many American lives at risk.]
The job description is as follows: Wanted: A strong charismatic nationalist figure to guide the Arabic-speaking world toward modernization along with stability, an acceptable peace with Israel, good relations with the West, and solidarity against threats from both non-Arab Iran and radical Islamists.
Of course, there is a mirror-image role that could also be filled: A strong charismatic nationalist figure to mobilize the Arabic-speaking world for battle with Israel , confrontation with the West, and solidarity against threats from both non-Arab Iran and radical Islamists.
There are no serious applicants for the first position and only a single almost laughable one for the second...
[and what is 'the West' doing to influence which kind of leader emerges? ... ]
Russia tests ballistic missiles
Russia has successfully tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles that are to replace ageing rockets from the Soviet era. A strategic missile known as the RS-24 flew 7,000 km (4350 miles) to hit targets on the Kamchatka peninsula. Later, a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea launched another new missile, hitting the same test site. It comes as Russia has again accused the US of ignoring its concerns over a planned US missile defence system.
[don't their actions increase the need for a missile defense system?]
[at the same time...]
Iran to Get Russian Missile Defense
Russia is preparing to equip Iran with a powerful new air defense system that would dramatically increase its ability to repel an attack, Iran's defense minister said Wednesday. The S-300 anti-aircraft missile defense system is capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missile warheads at ranges of over 90 miles and at altitudes of about 90,000 feet. Russian military officials boast that its capabilities outstrip the U.S. Patriot missile system.
[evidently their definition of 'defense' is creditable and ours isn't? despite Iran's repeated statements of intended aggression? Why isn't the media ridiculing this Putin guy's inane statements re: our defense-only systems somehow justifying an obviously-false excuse to reignite an arms race?]
Hugo Chavez's seizure last year of a huge oil project in the name of the state has not come without costs. US oil giant Exxon has sued Venezuela to recover costs from the project and a judge has agreed to freeze Venezuelan national assets.
Making Chavez pay for his stealing is the only way to discourage this sort of thieving worldwide. If a country wants to switch to a socialist state where all the assets are owned by the government, that's fine - as long as they pay companies for what they built.
Meanwhile, Venezuela oil production continues to decline. But as long as prices stay high, Chavez should have plenty of cash to make his mischief in South America.
[the inevitable fate of socialist systems, where there're no consequences for failure - and why all such systems are unsustainable - just watch over the coming years...]
Telemedicine can remedy several of the problems currently plaguing the health care industry, according to a new report by Devon Herrick, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). For example:
> For many ailments, the patient doesn't need to be in front of the doctor, but his or her information does."The only thing stopping us from using telemedicine to our advantage is a reluctance to control our own health care dollars," [?] ..."If we control the dollars, as I do with my Health Savings Account, the consumer can decide the value."
> A tech-savvy doctor can respond to a phone call or e-mail with a diagnosis, thereby saving some patients any visit at all.
> With more complete information accessible in electronic medical records, doctors could make faster and more accurate diagnoses.
> That would expedite the diagnosing process for both doctor and patient, by avoiding costly trips to doctors' offices and wasted time in waiting rooms.
[applying available technology as private industry would - now that would be real 'change']
Utilities face a serious problem. Electricity demand is projected to increase 40 percent by 2030, according to government estimates. Meanwhile, overzealous regulators make it difficult to expand energy capacity. Unfortunately, instead of loosening regulations to induce capacity expansion, state and federal governments are moving toward rationing electricity.
Proponents make it sound so simple. Just buy a new dishwasher, build a couple of windmills, put some solar cells on the roof and — voila — energy problem solved. Not really. Maryland would have to reduce its electricity consumption by about a fifth of today's use — or the equivalent of a half a million households — to meet Mr. O'Malley's objective. Still, some may say, all this sounds fair enough. What's wrong with some aggressive conservation?
Well, there's a lot wrong when it's unjustifiably forced upon consumers. Think about it. The legitimacy of these draconian efforts is rooted in the notion there is an energy shortage. Conservation, after all, makes sense when there is a shortage of something. But energy is not in short supply. There are fossil fuels, and lots of them, right here in America. Yet America is one of the few nations that chooses to leaves much of its own reserves untapped...
[a component of our insane energy policies is that government bureaucrats are always looking for ways to increase their power - and this energy-is-bad idea plays right into their hands of taxing (and so controlling) all activity]
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there were between 50,000 and 75,000 illegal immigrants in Oklahoma nearly two years ago, with 20 times more -- as many as 1.6 million -- in Texas.
Last year, Oklahoma's Legislature passed, by huge margins, the nation's toughest law on illegal immigrants that:
> Restricts illegal immigrants' access to driver's licenses and ID cards.
> Cuts off several forms of public assistance for illegal immigrants. Emergency medical care, disaster aid and certain immunizations are exempted.
> Makes it harder for illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition.
> Encourages state and local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law.
> Makes it a felony to harbor, transport, conceal or shelter illegal immigrants.
> Starting this summer, requires private and government employers to use a federal database to verify employment eligibility of all new hires.
> Make public schools report how many illegal-immigrant children are enrolled.
Meanwhile, some Texas lawmakers are already promising bills that mirror Oklahoma's House Bill 1804, [saying] even as Congress deadlocks on immigration, a state can protect itself against what he calls threats to public health and safety posed by a porous border.
['restricts' not bans, 'several' not all, 'harder' not prevents, 'encourages' not requires, 'federal database' means we've had a way to verify employment eligibility for years - and not used it, 'public' means tax payer funded - but previously not disclosing how many illegal-immigrants we're paying for? And these mushy 'restrictions' and 'encouragements' represent "the nations toughest law on illegal immigrants"?]
..According to published accounts, the rebate will add $168 billion to the nation’s deficit – to be repaid with future taxes – in order to provide varying handouts of up to $1,200 per couple plus $300 per child. But before you write that thank you letter to the local congressman, take out a calculator and do the math. There are 303.4 million Americans out there, meaning the average rebate should come to $553 per person, or $2,212 for a family of four. But the maximum grant that family of four can possibly receive is $1,800. So for that family, it means $2,212 in taxes out of one pocket to put $1,800 into the other.
Supply-side economics, says the father of supply-side economics, only works by cutting the marginal rate of taxation. Reducing a family’s marginal tax burden by $1,800 would not only cost the treasury less, but would reward that family for earning more income or sheltering less – resulting in higher productivity. That, of course, is the one thing that Congress won’t even consider. It brings to mind Mark Twain’s famous observation,
“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”READ MORE