Sunday, June 17, 2012

More from the War on Science. A UCLA professor points out that evidence used to justify state regulations is fraudulent, as is the Ph.D. of the lead researcher, and is fired for his efforts:
Dr. Enstrom, a research professor in UCLA's Department of Environmental Health Sciences, published important peer-reviewed research demonstrating that fine particulate matter does not kill Californians. Also, Dr. Enstrom assembled detailed evidence that contends powerful UC professors and others have systematically exaggerated the adverse health effects of diesel particulate matter in California, knowing full well that these exaggerations would be used by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to justify draconian diesel vehicle regulations in California. In addition, [Dr Enstrom] argues that he exposed the fact that the lead author of the key CARB Report used to justify the diesel regulations did not have the UC Davis Ph.D. degree that he claimed. Instead, according to the suit, this "scientist" bought a fake Ph.D. for $1,000 from a fictional "Thornhill University." Finally, Dr. Enstrom discovered that several activist members of the CARB Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants have exceeded the legislatively mandated three-year term limits by decades. The suit contends that shortly after Dr. Enstrom revealed this systematic wrongdoing, UCLA not only issued a notice of termination, it denied him any compensation for his work by systematically and wrongfully looting his research fund accounts. Dr. Enstrom worked for more than a year without pay as he in good faith appealed his wrongful termination using UCLA procedures. Ironically enough, the fake "scientist" was only suspended for his misconduct while Dr. Enstrom was terminated for telling the truth.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

State and local spending over the past 60 years:

But, how does this square with Obama's recent assertion that the primary thing undermining our recovery is widespread reductions in employment in state and local governments? Josh Barro points out why the public sector isn't "doing fine":
San Jose had an average of 7.5 employees per 1,000 residents from 1986 to 2005, and never dropped below 7.0. But in the last two years, that ratio has cratered -- to 5.6 per thousand this year, with further cuts expected next year.

This is partly because revenue has risen only modestly, with general fund receipts rising 19 percent in a decade. But the main reason is that costs for a full-time equivalent employee are astronomical and skyrocketing. San Jose spends $142,000 per FTE on wages and benefits, up 85 percent from 10 years ago. As a result, the city shed 28 percent of its workforce over that period, even as its population was rising.

A lot of that increase is due to rising required pension payments, as the assets in the city’s pension funds have lost value. But much also had to do with what Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, describes as “irresponsible policy actions” over the last 15 years. Here’s his list:
  1. Giving out raises faster than revenues were growing.
  2. Giving out raises and increasing benefits when revenues were falling.
  3. Giving out raises and benefits retroactively.
  4. Allowing employees to cash out unlimited amounts of sick leave when they retire.
  5. Providing lifetime health care for retirees.
He also notes that “the City Council and outside arbitrators also significantly enhanced retirement benefits. The maximum benefit for public safety employees grew from 75 percent of final salary to 90 percent, and a guaranteed 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment was awarded to all employees.”

Friday, June 15, 2012

Quote of the day:
The United States symbolises the worst ideologies in the world: growth and freedom.
-Pentti Linkola, writer and environmentalist. (via zerohedge).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

US expands aerial intelligence operations in Africa.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fascinating analysis on Russia's support for Syria from Walter Russel Mead:
The roots of Russia’s support for Butcher Assad go deep. This is much more than nostalgia for Russia’s last Middle East ally from Soviet days. This is about getting back in touch with Russia’s pre-communist foreign policy traditions, and about Putin’s relations with one of his most reliable and important bases of support: the Russian Orthodox Church. The Church has historically exerted a strong pull on Russian policies overseas, especially in defense of Christian minorities in the Balkans and Middle East. Throughout the events of the Arab Spring, Russia has been reluctant — to put it kindly — to join the efforts to unseat dictators like Hosni Mubarak and Bashar Assad. Though these tyrants have often been brutal toward many of their citizens, Christian minorities have, by and large, thrived under their rule.

The Orthodox Church does not drive Russia’s foreign policy by itself, but it is certainly a force to be reckoned with. A few months ago, president-elect Vladimir Putin went to Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Russian patriarchate’s department of external church relations, with a pledge to support the Church with millions of dollars in donations to Church causes and institutions. The metropolitan did not want money. He wanted the Russian government to protect the Christians of the Middle East. “So it will be,” Putin promised.

Christians make up 10 percent of Syria’s population, about 2.5 million people. Bashar Assad has long protected them, and many of them support him still. Syrian Christians fear the intentions of the rebels fighting the regime. They worry about the anti-minority sentiments espoused by some of the leaders of the Syrian National Council, many of whom are Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood. Like Syria’s Kurds and other minorities, Syrian Christians prefer the stability of the Assad government to the turmoil that could follow if the regime collapsed...

Russia’s concern for Syrian Christians is also nothing new. Although the Communists were more interested in hounding and enslaving religious believers than protecting them, under the czars Russia was officially recognized by the Ottoman sultans as the protector of Orthodox Christians throughout the Turkish empire. In the 18th and 19th century Russian concern for these Christians (married to a concern for its geopolitical ambitions) frequently shaped Russian policy towards the Ottomans and the West. The Crimean War at one point brought Russia into war with Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire over a quarrel between Russia and France over their rights to represent and protect Ottoman Christians in the Holy Land.

As Putin and the people around him look to rebuild Russian identity and Russian policy in the wake of the Soviet collapse, the Orthodox Church is an important focus for their work. Internally, Orthodox Christianity can replace Marxism-Leninism as a philosophical basis for Russian patriotism and identity. In a country where the principle alternatives to Putinism seem to be fascism on the right and communism on the left, the importance of the Russian Orthodox Church as a mass base for conservative and nationalist but non-crazy Russian politics should not be undervalued. Externally, Orthodox Christians in the Balkans and the Middle East are eager to renew their relations with a power that sympathizes with their needs and world view. Regardless of Putin’s own religious views, an alliance with Orthodoxy is vital to any attempt to govern Russia and to rebuild its foreign influence.
Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Strategic advice on Syria:
Our objective there should be to tie down Iran and poison its (and its proxies’) relations with the Arab public, the larger Islamic world, and nations in general. We want Syria to become Iran’s Vietnam, a conflict causing it no end of headaches but one it can’t easily get out of.

Bolton offers a “nightmare scenario” wherein “Iran would allow Assad to fall, losing its pawn, and in exchange Obama would agree to do even less than he is doing now to stop Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, allowing Iran to protect its queen.” Hey, anything’s possible, but the mullahs have an extremely strong interest in keeping Assad in charge at almost any price, as evidenced by their assignment of SS troops (a.k.a. Revolutionary Guard) to help crush the uprising in Syria. Instead of dithering, the administration should be pinning everything that happens in Syria on Iran: If there’s a civilian massacre, we need to demand an investigation into whether Iranian forces participated in it; if residential areas are shelled, we must demand to know whether the weaponry was shipped from Iran. The return address of every artillery shell is Tehran; the mullahs are responsible for every dead Syrian child.
Copyright © Swing Right Rudie
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