Monday, May 31, 2010

Honoring Those Who Served and Died for Our Country

"Memorial Day Order"

General Orders No. 11, Grand Army of the Republic Headquarters.
I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and com­rades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
. . .
Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
. . .
Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation's gratitude—the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.
. . .

By Command of:

John A. Logan
Commander in Chief
May 5, 1868

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

7 US Cities in Listing of 50 Best in World for Quality of Living

But no U.S. cities scored in the top 30.

Mercer Global Consulantcy has released a list of the top 50 cities in the world in terms of "quality of living".

Here are the US cities on the list and their rankings:

31 Honolulu
32 San Francisco (tied with Adelaide, Australia)
37 Boston
45 Chicago and Washington, D. C. (also tied with Lisbon, Portugal)
49 New York
50 Seattle

The number 1 city is Vienna. Vancouver, Canada is number 4.

Having visited Vienna (though more than 20 years ago), I can say it is a very nice city. At number 28 Calgary in Canada beats all the U.S. cities.

This ranking is of a selected list of 221 cities worldwide and is used "to help governments and multi-national companies compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments."

H/T DrudgeReport

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Make Sure Your Vote Counted

UPDATE: I checked with Multnomah County elections just by saying I wanted to verify that my vote was received and counted. I thanked the man who helped me. It was quick. The records are easily accessible. They only asked for my date of birth and last name.

OregonGuy writes:
Now I find out that the county clerks in Oregon are withholding information from the Maurer campaign because the voter’s signature didn't match from outside of their May 18th ballot with what their County Elections have on file.
. . .
Voters have 10 days from election day to fix this with their County Elections office. By the way, the Secretary of State Elections Division and every County Elections office has officially refused in writing to supply a list of folks receiving this letter. So now it’s up to you and me to reach as many of these folks as possible without knowing who they are!

If you voted, you must call your local elections office to find out if your ballot was accepted. Hit this link for your local elections office.
[emphasis added]
Refusing to release the list of voters rejected, is not a good sign.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Oregon Woos Solar Factory with $40+ Million in Loans/Tax Credits

Oregon has been working on a top secret plan, called Project Ready, to lure a California business, Solexant Corporation, to build a solar factory in the Portland area. Though the current plan is to start with a $200 million factory employing about a hundred workers, it "could eventually employ hundreds."

Oregon has sweetened the pot with the prospect of $43.75 million in loans and subsidies.
"Energy officials said an advisory committee would hold a public meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Salem, at 625 Marion St. NE, to consider a $25 million loan to Solexant. The agency has already pre-certified the company for a business-energy tax credit to cover half of $37.5 million in eligible costs."
That's $437,500 per job for the initial 100 employees. One assumes Solexant is open to building in Oregon because California's budget problems don't allow for much in the way of loans and subsidies for new plant builds.

The main problem comes in the prospect that Solexant could "eventually employ hundreds." Then again, maybe not. Consider what happened to another solar plant Oregon lost to Massachusetts in 2007.

Massachusetts lured Evergreen Solar away from Oregon with a subsidy package eventually totaling $58.6 million. As of early 2008 Evergreen had brought 350 jobs to Massachusetts and was looking to increase jobs to 1,000. No such luck. Things started to turn bad in early 2008. After posting losses of $200 million in 2008 and 2009, Evergreen Solar had to transfer most of its panel assembly jobs to China. That's $58 million Massachusetts ended up spending to help job creation in China.

Pixie Dust* industries, like adventures, "are not all pony-rides in May-sunshine." (Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit, ch. 2)
*my friend OregonGuy's colorful terminology

Friday, May 21, 2010

Brazil: How to Change the World

From the Guardian (UK)
"Five days in the favela: 'I know what it feels like to rob because of hunger'

"Evangelical preacher and radio DJ Pastor Nininho found redemption from a life of crime in favela Maré. Now he works to save young people from drugs and violence"
See the 11 minute video here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Germany Dying Out

Germany's birth rate is less than its death rate.

New figures show that there were 651,000 babies born in Germany in 2009--a drop of 30,000 from the previous year. In 2009 for every thousand people 10 died and only 8.2 babies were born to replace them. In 2008 the birth rate was 9.3 per thousand--which means there has been more than a 10% drop in the birthrate per thousand people.

Currently Germany has the lowest birth rate in Europe and one of the lowest in the world. Only Japan has a worse birth rate.
On a European scale, Germany has the lowest birthrate, and on a global scale it is almost as bad. Of 27 countries with populations in excess of 40 million, Germany ranks second from bottom in terms of children under 15 as a percentage of the overall population. Japan is bottom with 13%, followed by Germany with 13.6%, and Italy with 14%. At 45%, Ethiopia has the highest portion of youth population.
This is not only a demographic problem. It is also a major problem for Germany's economy. There aren't enough young Germans being born to sustain the current social welfare state.
Politicians have long been forced to improve the birthrate or face the problem of Germany having insufficient workers and taxpayers to support a population which, like much of Europe, is ageing faster than at any time in history.
Mark Steyn* explains the problem in clear economic terms using Greece as the example:
In America, the feckless insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, they've reached the next stage in social democratic evolution: There are no kids or grandkids to screw over. The United States has a fertility rate of around 2.1, or just over two kids per couple. Greece has a fertility rate of about 1.3: 10 grandparents have six kids have four grandkids - i.e., the family tree is upside down. Demographers call 1.3 "lowest-low" fertility - the point from which no society has ever recovered. And compared to Spain and Italy, Greece has the least worst fertility rate in Mediterranean Europe.

So you can't borrow against the future because, in the most basic sense, you don't have one. Greeks in the public sector retire at 58, which sounds great. But, when 10 grandparents have four grandchildren, who pays for you to spend the last third of your adult life loafing around?
There is the possibility of more immigration, but since no skilled labor immigrants are banging at the gates asking for entry, Germany's economy and lifestyle are bound to plummet--along with its social welfare complex.

*Steyn's America Alone treats the declining population problem in depth

Oregon Election Turnout at 42% GOP 40% Dems

UPDATE: Current Oregon Secretary of State information shows an uptick in turnout. Democrats are now at 379,144 ballots cast or 43.88%. Republican turnout is slightly under half at 319,232 ballots cast or 48.58%. Nonpartisans are at 118,161 or 23.01%.

Oregon Secretary of State office results:

. . . . . . Registered Voters . Ballots Cast . Voter Turnout
Democrat . . . . 867,408 . . . . 345,671 . . . . 39.85%
Republican . . . 657,786 . . . . 277,319 . . . . 42.16%
Nonpartisan (nonaffiliated, minor parties & others)
.. . . . . . . . . . 515,944 . . . . 110,480 . . . . 21.41%

Totals: . . . . 2,041,138 . . . . 733,470 . . . . 35.93%

Over half (54%) of ballots cast were returned in the last three days--with almost a third (32%) of ballots cast returned on election day itself.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Journalists Fourth on LEAST TRUSTED List

Editor & Publisher is relieved that in a recent survey of least trusted professions journalists come in behind--wait for it--politicians, salespeople and lawyers.

The survey, commissioned by Sandler Training, finds journalists tied with bankers at number four in being least trusted--one place worse than mechanics.

It's not great news when you're tied with bankers (on the Obama hit list as scumbags) in public credibility. What a disastrous fall from the glory days of muckrackers to find your profession vying with professions seen at best as self-interested with power and money as the bottom line--or a bunch of liars and cheats at worst.

E & P's lighthearted take on the survey belies a problem journalists apparently have no interest in pursuing. Why are journalists so little trusted despite a constitutional presumption that they work in the people's interest?

Maybe the answer, rampant journalistic bias and lack of concern for facts, is too painful to bear. So incompetence can be added to the list of grievances against a profession which is supposedly dedicated to courageously digging out the facts.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Brazil Snubs Obama Administration and Signs Major Economic Deal with Iran

Brazilian President Lula and Iranian President Ahmadinejad

Today, in a slap at U.S. foreign policy, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) signed eight memorandums of understanding with Iran strengthening and deepening ties between the two nations. Besides having the 10th largest economy in the world, Brazil is a current member of the U.N. Security Council which is slated to vote on imposing sanctions on Iran.

The eight memorandums between Brazil and Iran relate to commercial cooperation, opening of lines of credit, and technological trade and collaboration relating to energy, particularly petroleum. The main item involves opening a line of direct credit of $1 billion euros between the two countries. This will facilitate business investment in Brazil and Iran.

Brazil's action is a blow to President Obama's push to impose U.N.-backed economic sanctions on Iran for continuing to develop nuclear weapons. Last month China gave tepid agreement to economic sanctions. But today, Brazil gave a resounding thumbs down to the tune of $1 billion euros.

 Reuters photo:  Lula and Khamenei

Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, took advantage of these diplomatic and economic agreements to praise Brazil's independence in countering Obama administration initiatives and "arrogant policies" of the United States.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Saturday, May 08, 2010

V-E Day 65th Anniversary: They Were Heroes Then

On this day 65 years ago the courage, sacrifice and heroism of our fathers and grandfathers ended World War II in Europe. Germany agreed to unconditional surrender at Rheims. V-E Day brought celebration and happiness.

But the war in the Pacific was still raging, and families in the U.S. knew that this did not mean sons and husbands would be coming home to safety. The United States turned to planning the invasion of Japan requiring redeployment of 15 divisions from Europe to the Pacific theater. The US was looking at an estimated loss of up to a million Americans (and millions of Japanese).

Today is a day to be grateful to the men and women who served in World War II, risked their lives and won the victory--first in Africa and Europe and then in the Pacific.

It's also a day to remember and honor the sacrifices made on the home front through round the clock work shifts in war industries, foregoing civilian goods and services due to rationing or lack of production (e.g., bed sheets and cars were not for sale), or having your life turned upside down by seeing those you loved go off to war and receiving devastating telegrams that some of them would never come back.

They were heroes then.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Rising Unemployment Is GOOD NEWS

A raise in the unemployment rate from 9.7% to 9.9% is actually good news and a sign of success. So says Rick Newman of US News & World Report:
"It sounds dreadful. After drifting down consistently since last fall, the unemployment rate has suddenly shot up again, from 9.7 percent in March to 9.9 percent in April. But don't despair: A rising unemployment rate is actually one of the best signs yet that the economy is bouncing back."
There are now 15.3 million unemployed Americans. Though the number of jobs increased by 295,000, the new line of 805,000 people wanting jobs far surpassed that number. This caused the uptick in unemployment to just under 10%.

But for Rick Newman the majority of those 805,000 unemployed were apparently couch potatoes who decided they might finally like to look for a job:
"Another 610,000 people entered the labor force without being technically unemployed, a sign that first-time workers and other job seekers have decided to get off the couch and start hustling."
And the good news is that things are looking rosy enough that these laggards finally decided to look for that cushy job.

Not, of course, that they need a job or the money.

Apparently unemployment is no longer a real problem and no longer causes real misery. Which is a good thing for employees of U.S. News & World Report (as well as other media people) since its circulation revenue dropped 41.9% in just two years from 2007 to 2009.

Rick Newman, and other media spinners, may be putting on a happy face to cheer up the fast growing ranks of their unemployed colleagues.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Bend Bulletin: Creative Circulation Growth

Editor & Publisher reports that the Bend Bulletin has increased its circulation 34% in just one year. Not it's readers, but its circulation.

Starting this year the Audit Bureau of Circulations will combine print circulation and e-circulation. The Bend Bulletin has offered an e-edition since 2005, but its subscription strategy changed in 2008.

Previously a print subscription went for $10.50/month and the e-edition subscription for $8.00/month. But, the Bend Bulletin now offers both subscriptions for only $0.50/month more than the print subscription alone.

A lot of subscribers thought that was a good price for the convenience of having both editions and signed on for the extra $0.50/month. If $8.00/month is way overpriced for a non-print edition, $0.50/month was an attractive deal if you wanted the print edition anyway.

Now that ABC is accepting e-circulation as part of the circulation total, the Bend Bulletin's circulation jumped a third in a year. The daily (Monday-Friday) circulation increased from 32,682 in March 2009 to 43,895 in 2010.

Not a bad day's work without having to gain new readers.