Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 16th, 2007

What is Bush doing to help Iraqi refugees?

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Not much, it seems:

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned that it may take the U.S. government as long as two years to process and admit nearly 10,000 Iraqi refugees referred by the United Nations for resettlement to the United States, because of bureaucratic bottlenecks.

In a bluntly worded State Department cable titled “Iraqi Refugee Processing: Can We Speed It Up?” Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker noted that the Department of Homeland Security had only a handful of officers in Jordan to vet the refugees.

Bush administration officials in Washington immediately disputed several of Crocker’s claims.

Still, the “sensitive” but unclassified memo, sent Sept. 7, laid out a wrenching, ground-level view of the U.S. government’s halting response to Iraq’s refugee crisis. Human rights groups and independent analysts say thousands of desperate Iraqis who have worked alongside Americans now find themselves the targets of insurgents and sectarian militias, prompting many of them to seek residency in the United States or Europe.

Although the subject was little addressed during Crocker’s and Gen. David H. Petraeus’s public testimony to Congress last week on the state of the war, the envoy has raised the issue in two cables in the past two months. The subject is likely to be discussed when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets this week with congressional leaders to outline the administration’s refugee admissions goals for 2008 and when the Senate resumes its Iraq war debate.

About 2 million Iraqis are displaced inside Iraq, and an estimated 2.2 million more have fled to Syria, Jordan and other neighboring countries, where they are straining local resources and threatening to destabilize host communities, the United Nations has reported. With 60,000 Iraqis fleeing their homes each month, Jordan largely closed its borders to Iraqis earlier this year, and Syria said yesterday that it will begin requiring visas for Iraqis at the conclusion of Ramadan next month, essentially closing off exit routes from the country.

In response, the U.S. government has provided more than $122 million in refugee aid to Iraq’s neighbors this year, and U.S. allies are accepting tens of thousands of refugees. Washington also has expanded from 50 to 500 an annual quota on visas for Iraqis working as interpreters and translators for the U.S. Embassy and military, and in February it promised to process 7,000 refugees by Sept. 30, although U.S. officials later said they expected only 2,000 to be admitted to the United States by then.

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Written by Leisureguy

16 September 2007 at 9:31 pm

The different faces of Alan Greenspan

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Paul Krugman reminds Greenspan of what he (Greenspan) actually said and did:

When President Bush first took office, it seemed unlikely that he would succeed in getting his proposed tax cuts enacted. The questionable nature of his installation in the White House seemed to leave him in a weak political position, while the Senate was evenly balanced between the parties. It was hard to see how a huge, controversial tax cut, which delivered most of its benefits to a wealthy elite, could get through Congress.

Then Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, testified before the Senate Budget Committee.

Until then Mr. Greenspan had presented himself as the voice of fiscal responsibility, warning the Clinton administration not to endanger its hard-won budget surpluses. But now Republicans held the White House, and the Greenspan who appeared before the Budget Committee was a very different man.

Suddenly, his greatest concern — the “emerging key fiscal policy need,” he told Congress — was to avert the threat that the federal government might actually pay off all its debt. To avoid this awful outcome, he advocated tax cuts. And the floodgates were opened.

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Written by Leisureguy

16 September 2007 at 9:25 pm

If people have the information, they will use it

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This story underscores the importance of providing good information to consumers — something that businesses generally fight:

A grocery store chain based in Maine declared success yesterday for a year-old experiment in using a rating system to direct customers to healthier food items.

The chain, the Hannaford Brothers Company, said that the program had a major impact on steering purchases in the expansive packaged-food section of the store, including cereals, soups and breads.

The system that Hannaford developed, called Guiding Stars, rated the nutritional value of the grocery items in the store on a scale of zero to three stars, with three representing the most nutritious products.

After analyzing a year’s worth of sales data, Hannaford found that customers tended to buy leaner cuts of meat. Sales of ground beef with stars on their labels increased 7 percent, and sales of chicken that had a star rating rose 5 percent. Sales of ground beef labeled with no stars dropped by 5 percent, while sales of chicken that had a zero-star rating declined 3 percent.

Similarly, sales of whole milk, which received no stars, declined by 4 percent, while sales of fat-free milk (three stars) increased 1 percent.

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Written by Leisureguy

16 September 2007 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Business, Food, Health

Nature copies science-fiction: “Alien” and the moray eel

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The creature in “Alien” and the moray eel share the double-jaws thing. Video at the link showing the second set of jaws in action (on a moray eel, not on the Alien—that one you’ve seen already).

Written by Leisureguy

16 September 2007 at 2:52 pm

Alex, the gray parrot

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Story here, and the video:

Even up through last week, Alex was working with Dr. Pepperberg on compound words and hard-to-pronounce words. As she put him into his cage for the night last Thursday, Alex looked at her and said: “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.”

He was found dead in his cage the next morning, and was determined to have died late Thursday night.

Written by Leisureguy

16 September 2007 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Really: it’s time to learn Go

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Teach Yourself Go

And timely news from a Go vendor:

Slate & Shell has just acquired the new printing of Teach Yourself Go, by Charles Matthews, which has been unavailable in the US for awhile. This is an excellent general book about the game that also functions as an introductory book. However, it is much more thorough and covers more issues about tactics and strategy than normal intro books, so it is useful to virtually any kyu player. It also has information about the history and culture of the game.

You keep your mind agile and able by learning new things, and Go is a great candidate. Learn now, practice through the next few weeks, and over the Thanksgiving break play several games a day. It will, I promise, change the way you look at things.

Written by Leisureguy

16 September 2007 at 2:34 pm

Air taxi service

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Interesting post on point-to-point air-taxi service as an alternative to other transportation options.

Written by Leisureguy

16 September 2007 at 10:06 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

The invasion and occupation of Iraq

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What it would look like if it were the US that had been invaded and occupied.

Written by Leisureguy

16 September 2007 at 9:37 am

Tomorrow’s shave today

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I know the brush I’ll use—Simpsons Chubby 2 Best—and I’ll certainly use a shave stick, though undecided on which.

The razor will be the English open-comb Executive, of course, and I’ll have a new Treet blade because I forgot the alcohol rinse and noted this morning that the blade had some rust.

And the aftershave is still a matter of speculation…

Written by Leisureguy

16 September 2007 at 9:01 am

Posted in Shaving

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