No Sign Of Iran Ceasing Enrichment

Secretary of State Rice, in a CNN interview had these observations about Iran's cooperation with the international community's demands that they cease their efforts to enrich uranium.

"I think it's fair to say that we have not yet heard anything that suggests the Iranians are going to suspend," Rice said. "In fact, you've probably have seen the statements to the contrary from the Iranian President."

The U.N. Security Council passed resolution 1696 to demand that Iran put a stop to its nuclear ambitions or face the threat of sanctions. The deadline under the resolution was August 31st.

Last Minute Games On Capital Hill (UPDATED)

This Reuters story details some last minute efforts by the Republicans in Congress to shove through their pet projects as unrelated attachments to a port security bill.

The only one that appears ready to stick will be a ban on Internet gambling. Here's the details of things they attempted to tack on:

  • A ban on Internet gambling
  • A privacy liability shield for telephone companies who give customer records to the administration.
  • A bill to tighten security at court houses and increase penalties for attacks on judges.

The Hidden Toll Of Immigration Enforcement

Still think illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans? Consider this New York Times story.

Consider these quotes from the article:

The tightening of the border with Mexico, begun more than a decade ago but reinforced since May with the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops, has forced California growers to acknowledge that most of their workers are illegal Mexican migrants. The U.F.W. estimates that more than 90 percent of the state’s farm workers are illegal.

For years, economists say, California farmers have been losing their pickers to less strenuous, more stable and sometimes higher-paying jobs in construction, landscaping and tourism.

“If you want another low-wage job, you can work in a hotel and not die in the heat,” said Marc Grossman, the spokesman for the United Farm Workers of America. The union calculates that up to 15 percent of California’s farm labor force leaves agriculture each year.

U.S. To Delay Tougher Border Security Measures (Updated)

This Washington Post article details an effort by Congress to delay new border security measures by as much as 17 months.

It seems that the government's rush to implement tougher security like requiring passports with imbedded RFID-style tags, has run into significant snags in it's implementation:

"Poor planning and premature implementation of this system could clog our borders while making us even less secure," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who backed the delay.

Are Pluggable Hybrids (PHEVs) Economical?

A Christian Science Monitor story calls into question the economic efficiency of Pluggable Hybrid Electric Vehicles.

A groundbreaking study released last week sounds a cautionary note to the consumer. Plug-ins do burn less gasoline than regular hybrids - and gobs less than gasoline-only vehicles - but the high cost of their bigger battery packs will probably neutralize even significant savings at the pump, according to a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient America (ACEEE)

I have looked into the costs vs savings argument myself, and there is compelling arguments to be made for staying with a gas-powered car if your only concern is money. However, there is more at stake than money. Hybrids, and especially PHEVs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and are beneficial to the environment in terms of the reduction of CO2 emissions. Costs will come down as adoption rates climb.

Tax Break Insanity Favors Hummers Over Hybrids

An article int the Pasadena Star News details how congress allows purchasers of hybrid vehicles a tax credit of up to $1,860. However, that credit is tied to sales quotas and that is leaving Toyota buyers out in the cold as they (Toyota) have now started to exceed their quota.

Meanwhile, purchasers of Hummers and other SUVs get huge tax deductions, as detailed by Taxpayers for Common Sense. The Jobs and Growth Act of 2003 allows for full deductibility of nearly all SUVs.

What can congress be thinking? It is as if throwing CO2 into the air was a national priority instead of a national embarrassment.

$10,000 Electric Car Available

The Boston Globe has an article detailing the first delivery of an electric car made by Zero Air Polution to a buyer in Boston.

The car, called the Xebra, has one significant handicap: it has a top speed of 40 mph.

I think it's nice that people are trying to make these things work, but a car that can only go 40mph I think does more to discredit the electric car movement than support it.

Budget Deficit Growing Out Of Control

Most parents and grandparents wouldn't even consider buying a house or a new car and forging the signatures of their children and grandchildren on the loan and mortgage agreements.

That choice lede comes from Minnesota's (a red state) Mankato Free Press and expresses the absurdity at the heart of the Federal Budget.

Fiscal 2006 To End With Incomplete Budget

What issue can bring together the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the CATO Institute, two organizations at opposite ends of the political spectrum? Bush's budgets.

"Bush is the second-most fiscally irresponsible president ever" - Richard Kogan, CBPR

"President Bush has presided over the largest overall increase in inflation-adjusted federal spending since Lyndon B. Johnson" - Steven Silvinski, CATO

China Calls Taiwan U.N. Entry Dangerous

A Chinese government spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council of China called efforts by Taiwan to seek entry into the U.N. "dangerous."

In early August, a few countries sought to include the issue of Taiwan on the agenda for the 61st session of the U.N. General Assembly. For now it has been excluded.

Artic Meltdown Reaching Record Levels

The sea ice in the arctic circle seasonally grows and shrinks each year; however, a disturbing trend, caused by rising sea temperatures is that the summer ice is reaching record lows during the summer.

The summer ice has dropped from about eight million square kilometers in the early 80s to just under 6 million in 2005 with similar drops in the winter.

The maximum amount of sea ice in the Arctic winter has fallen by six percent over each of the last two winters, as compared to a loss of merely 1.5 percent per decade on average annually since the earliest satellite monitoring in 1979. This is happening as summer sea ice continues its retreat at an average of ten percent per decade.

Republican Senators Defy Bush On Tribunals

More concerned about the image of the United States around the world than George W Bush's image, the Senate Armed Services Committee, controlled by Republicans, moved to pass a bill to protect the rights of foreign detainees instead of the bill pushed by Bush to authorize Military Tribunals for the detainees.

In doing so, they also moved to protect American soldiers by blocking efforts by Bush to seek a narrowed interpretation of the Geneva Convention's standards of humane treatment.

"Living Wage" Law Vetoed In Chicago

An effort to pass a law requiring large retailers with more than $1 Billion in sales or stores larger than 90,000 square feet was vetoed by Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago. A projected 31-18 vote to override would be three votes short of passing.

The measure would have required those employers to pay $10 per hour plus $3 an hour in benefits by 2010. That is in comparison to the Illinois minimum wage of $6.50 an hour and the embarrassing federal minimum wage of $5.15.

Chertoff Asserts Protecting America Too Expensive

In testimony before congress, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff stated that protecting every possible target in America against attack would bankrupt the nation. I have no doubt that such an overly simplistic statement is true. But what of our current priorities:

Mr. Chertoff, since he was named secretary in February 2005, has talked of the need to make spending risk-based, but his department has also been lambasted for compiling a list of possible targets that included a petting zoo, a bourbon festival and a popcorn factory, while at the same time it cut antiterrorism grants to high-risk cities like Washington and New York.

More False Claims Regarding WMDs From The Bush Administration

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is taking to task the Bush Administration and their Congressional counterparts for making false and/or misleading statements about Iran's nuclear ambitions and the IAEA's efforts to monitor their program.

If this sounds like deja vu, it is. The IAEA and Washington fought bitterly over assessments of Iraq's capabilities and ambitions leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.