Saturday, December 27, 2008

Noble encounter 

We Saw That reminded us about this truly noble encounter between a polar bear and a tethered sled dog. WST provides a link to a collection of photos from the play session.

The snopes page dealing with this story would do well to correct the claim that the polar bear was "obviously ...well-fed". Actually, the bear hadn't eaten for four months, according to the biologists and photographers who were tracking him. That's what makes the whole thing so remarkable.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

True 


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Update: Pastor Marshall Truehill passed away last night. Story here and here. Squandered Heritage and Adrastos have more.

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NOPD stocking stuffers 

A YRHT source reports that on Tuesday December 23, the NOPD was at UNO campus "in large numbers" doing some training. Apparently, the NOPD is issuing tasers to its entire(?) police force and they were undergoing training which "seemed to involve a film, some instruction and the ['tasering'] of each participant."

The source has a few questions about the new policy:

I don't recall any public notice or discussion of this change in policy -- tasers now being part of the regular armament of officers. I know the argument that this cuts down on violence, but recent research seems to suggest otherwise -- people being tased casually, deaths, etc.

Did the council approve this? Has there been any discussion that you know of? Is this a good idea in a dept. that is notoriously out of control?


It wouldn't hurt for the Council to review various incidents over the past year and determine if they were indeed "tase-worthy". Did this taser training session occur just before the holidays to reduce media exposure of this change in "regular armament of officers"?

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fa ra ra ra ra 

Happy Christmas to all.



(That's YRHT's obligatory yuletide photo.)

I think Greg is the hostilidays victor because nothing quite drained my soul like the TMNT "Wrap Rap".


Since it's a balmy X-mas in the Crescent City, we'll go with the Beach Boys. Have a merry one, and try not to shoot your eye out.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Brilliant 

The WSJ's Martin Feldstein thinks he has a great idea for President-Elect Barack Obama's stimulus/infrastructure spending proposal. How about using a sizable chunk of it for a "surge" in military spending? Instead of economizing or cutting back, Feldstein thinks we need more defense spending during the recession.

Below is a chart of total military spending during the Bush years. (Click to enlarge.) Yes, it's expected to surpass a trillion dollars in Fiscal '09.



graph details here






Call me a dirty hippie, but after tripling over the past eight years I believe the military budget needs to consider itself sufficiently "stimulated". Despite 4,000+ separate accounting systems, 2.000+ databases and $20 billion per year, the Pentagon still doesn't have a way to track its supplies, finances or people. This lack of accounting makes it easier for waste to accumulate.

Feldstein writes that

Investments in port security would reduce a major homeland vulnerability. Expanding the government's language training programs for new intelligence community recruits would provide more translators who can monitor the terrorist communications that we are able to intercept. Additional infrastructure for the FBI would remove an important constraint on the number of new FBI agents.

Yes, we'll grant this point. Increase funding for these "investments"-- and others! But do so by cutting spending in Bush's over-bloated, unaccountable, military budget. Don't siphon away stimulus dollars. If the deepening recession has Obama re-thinking his plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest, then he should be re-thinking his plan for the defense budget as well, and find savings and new priorities within it, rather than using stimulus money intended for national infrastructure projects.

Now for all those who think Feldstein's "stimulus" idea is a good one, here's the real question they should consider: why weren't the massive military spending increases under Bush more stimulative? Where did it all go? Why didn't it stimulate the economy to create more jobs? How can you have a war, plus massive increases in government spending (military and otherwise), plus an historic housing/credit bubble, plus sizable tax cuts... and still create so few net jobs?

We'll get to that question soon.

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