Archive for October 2007
This was good: Cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with apple-pie spice and with lemon pepper (like McCormick’s, which includes salt). Bake in 350 or 375 degree oven until soft. Cool and then refrigerate. I like to eat it with yogurt on top. I eat the skin, too. The spice with the lemon-pepper give it a savory spice taste.
“Current military” includes Dept. of Defense ($585 billion), the military portion from other departments ($122 billion), and an unbudgetted estimate of supplemental appropriations ($20 billion). “Past military” represents veterans’ benefits plus 80% of the interest on the debt.*
These figures are from an analysis of detailed tables in the “Analytical Perspectives” book of the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2008. The figures are federal funds, which do not include trust funds — such as Social Security — that are raised and spent separately from income taxes. What you pay (or don’t pay) by April 17, 2007, goes to the federal funds portion of the budget. The government practice of combining trust and federal funds began during the Vietnam War, thus making the human needs portion of the budget seem larger and the military portion smaller.
*Analysts differ on how much of the debt stems from the military; other groups estimate 50% to 60%. We use 80% because we believe if there had been no military spending most (if not all) of the national debt would have been eliminated. For further explanation, please see box at bottom of page.
Source:Washington Post , Feb. 6, 2007,
As presidential candidates largely ignore the issue, looming fiscal challenges threaten to swamp the U.S. economy and erode America’s superpower status, several of the nation’s foremost experts on the federal budget warned Wednesday.
“We have been diagnosed with fiscal cancer,” said David Walker, the nation’s comptroller general, or chief auditor, testifying before the Senate Budget Committee.
The committee called the hearing to spotlight legislation that would create a bipartisan panel charged with recommending how to tackle promised spending on federal retirement programs [they might take a look at military spending, earmarks, and the notorious taxcuts for the rich (which greatly reduced revenue), too – LG] that threaten to bankrupt the U.S. government.
“In the very least, it ought to be the framework that a new Congress and new president put in place,” said Leon Panetta, co-chairman of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Clinton-era budget director.
Really. They should bring in John McCain and Bill Kristol and the guys to tell the diplomats how very safe it is. “Like a farmer’s market in Indiana,”I believe was the description. AP reports:
Several hundred U.S. diplomats vented anger and frustration Wednesday about the State Department’s decision to force foreign service officers to take jobs in Iraq, with some likening it to a “potential death sentence.”
In a contentious hour-long “town hall meeting” called to explain the step, these workers peppered the official who signed the order with often hostile complaints about the largest diplomatic call-up since Vietnam. Announced last week, it will require some diplomats – under threat of dismissal – to serve at the embassy in Baghdad and in so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams in outlying provinces.
Many expressed serious concern about the ethics of sending diplomats against their will to serve in a war zone, where the embassy staff is largely confined to the so-called “Green Zone,” and the safety outside the area is uncertain while a review of the department’s use of private security contractors to protect its staff is under way.
“Incoming is coming in every day, rockets are hitting the Green Zone,” said Jack Crotty, a senior foreign service officer who once worked as a political adviser with NATO forces.
Employees directly confronted Foreign Service Director General Harry Thomas, who approved the move to so-called “directed assignments” late last Friday to make up for a lack of volunteers to go to Iraq.
“It’s one thing if someone believes in what’s going on over there and volunteers, but it’s another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment,” Crotty said. “I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?”
“You know that at any other (country) in the world, the embassy would be closed at this point,” Crotty said to loud and sustained applause from the about 300 diplomats who attended the meeting in a large State Department auditorium.
Thomas responded by saying the comments were “filled with inaccuracies” but did not elaborate until challenged by the head of the diplomats’ union, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), who like Crotty and others, demanded to know why many learned of the decision from news reports.
Thomas took full responsibility for the late notification but objected when AFSA President John Naland said that a recent survey found that only 12 percent of the union’s membership believed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was “fighting for them.”
“That’s their right but they’re wrong,” Thomas said, prompting a testy exchange.
“Sometimes if it’s 88 to 12, maybe the 88 percent are correct,” Naland said.
More at the link.
Quite a few surprises in this article. For example:
Activity Fatalities per million hours activity Skydiving 128.7 On-road motorcycling 8.8 Scuba diving 2.0 Living (all causes of death) 1.5 Snowmobiling 0.9 Passenger cars 0.5 Water skiing 0.3 Bicycling 0.3 Flying (scheduled domestic airlines) 0.2 Passenger car post-collision fire 0.0 From Charles R. Murray, “The Real Story: Overdesign Prevents Cars from Exploding,” Design News, October 4, 1993.
More at the link.
Californians quite likely will install more solar power generating capacity this year than in the previous 26 years combined, according to a new report from the California Public Utilities Commission on the progress of California’s $3.3 billion California Solar Initiative. The taxpayer-funded program that rebates to homeowners, businesses and non-profits that install solar panel, says Californians are going solar at record rates.
The California Solar Initiative pays a rebate of $2.50 per watt generated by a solar array.
The program’s goal is to generate 3 gigawatts of solar electricity by the year 2016. Between January and mid-September, the CSI received 5,109 applications which, if approved, would add 160 megawatts of solar energy. ” The report says requests for the incentives are on track to exceed this year California’s total installed solar from the previous 26 years.The report says 90 percent of the applications received this year are for residential rooftop solar panels, but 87 percent of the additional solar power would actually come from the larger solar arrays that make up the other 10 percent – to be installed by business, governments and non-profits.
You can read the report here though it’s a bit boring and technical. The bottom line is this: California is a hot, hot hot market for solar arrays.
More from Glenn Greenwald:
Leading telecom advocate Fred Hiatt this morning turned over his Washington Post Op-Ed page today to leading telecom advocate Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, to explain why it is so “unfair and unwise” to allow telecoms to be sued for breaking the law. Just as all Bush followers do when they want to “justify” lawbreaking, Rockefeller’s entire defense is principally based on one argument: 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. Thus he melodramatically begins:
In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, the Bush administration had a choice: Aggressively pursue potential terrorists using existing laws or devise new, secret intelligence programs in uncharted legal waters. . . . Within weeks of the 2001 attacks, communications companies received written requests and directives for assistance with intelligence activities authorized by the president. These companies were assured that their cooperation was not only legal but also necessary because of their unique technical capabilities. They were also told it was their patriotic duty to help protect the country after the devastating attacks on our homeland.
Using 9/11 to “justify” telecom amnesty is not only manipulative, but also completely misleading. Telecoms did not merely break the law in the intense days and weeks following the 9/11 attacks. Had they done only that, there would almost certainly be no issue. Indeed, the lead counsel in the AT&T case, Cindy Cohn, said in the podcast interview I conducted with her last week that had telecoms enabled illegal surveillance only in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks — but then thereafter demanded that the surveillance be conducted legally — EFF almost certainly would not have sued at all. But that isn’t what happened. Both the Bush administration and the telecoms jointly broke the law for years. Even as we moved further and further away from the 9/11 attacks, neither the administration nor the telecoms bothered to comply with the law. The administration was too interested in affirming the theory that the President could exercise power without limits, and the telecoms were too busy reaping the great profits from their increasingly close relationship with the Government.