As expected, Australian PM Kevin Rudd, who won his seat following promises to bring Aussie troops home from Iraq, has ended combat operations so withdrawal can begin. The Aussies were stationed in the south, particularly around Nasiriyah, which has seen its share of violence.
Troops held a ceremony Sunday that included lowering the Australian flag from its position and raising the American flag instead over Camp Terendak in the southern Iraq city of Nasiriyah.Like the dependable ally they are, the Aussies aren't just pulling up and running home. Several hundred other troops will remain in Iraq in security and liaison roles, and Australia will leave behind two maritime surveillance aircraft and a warship to help patrol oil platforms in the Gulf.
"We have to praise the role of the Australian troops in stabilizing the security situation in the province through their checkpoints on the outskirts of the city," said Aziz Kadim Alway, the governor of the Dhi Qar province. (AP)
There were no Digger fatalities during their five-year deployment. Six were injured, one seriously.
One Man, One-Half Vote
Dumb Democrats. The party that railed so vociferously about citizens deprived of votes in 2000 and 2004 has decided voters in Michigan and Florida, who had nothing to do with when their primaries were held, are only half-human. And many Dems are PO'd, as this clip demonstrates:
The agreement, termed "politically astute" by Walter Shapiro in Salon, is anything but. It won't end the acrimony, as the Clinton camp is talking lawsuits and supporters are threatening to sit out the election. Worse, it avoided the simpler, more politically astute solution: Seating all the delegates and punishing the state party leadership. All the delegates should have been seated (delegates of departed candidates could have been redistributed mathematically), and the to states' parties' leaders could have been dinged any number of ways: monetary fines, stripping of leadership roles, whatever.
The Dems punished the wrong people: The People. The Hacks should have been punished. But the Hacks are for Obama this year, so the party of the people threw the people overboard. The DNC and Obama deserve all the rancor and defections the agreement generates.
George Will Calls For Carbon Tax
I normally would rail against a conservative calling for a tax -- especially a tax to stop global warming, which we know at the outset will fail to accomplish its goal. But in this case, Will's got a point that's worth making: Given a choice between a black hole into which money will be poured for no purpose (the Lieberman-Warner global warming bill, which will be debated in the Senate this week) and a clear, visible and straightforward tax on carbon fuels, the latter is more preferable by far.
Could we have neither, please? Maybe, but given the great excuse global warming provides government to increase its power and tax its citizens, I thought I'd present the crux of Will's argument:
With cap-and-trade, government would create a right for itself -- an extraordinarily lucrative right to ration Americans' exercise of their traditional rights.Cap and trade is often presented as a free market solution. It is anything but. Citizens concerned about the fragile economy and the failure of government to reduce spending should regale their Senators with letters and calls opposing the bill. For me and other Californians, our useless Barbara Boxer has already come out in strong support of the bill. Natch.
Businesses with unused emission allowances could sell their surpluses to businesses that exceed their allowances. The more expensive and constraining the allowances, the more money government would gain.
If carbon emissions are the planetary menace that the political class suddenly says they are, why not a straightforward tax on fossil fuels based on each fuel's carbon content? This would have none of the enormous administrative costs of the baroque cap-and-trade regime. And a carbon tax would avoid the uncertainties inseparable from cap-and-trade's government allocation of emission permits sector by sector, industry by industry. So a carbon tax would be a clear and candid incentive to adopt energy-saving and carbon-minimizing technologies. That is the problem.
A carbon tax would be too clear and candid for political comfort. It would clearly be what cap-and-trade deviously is, a tax, but one with a known cost. Therefore, taxpayers would demand a commensurate reduction of other taxes. Cap-and-trade -- government auctioning permits for businesses to continue to do business -- is a huge tax hidden in a bureaucratic labyrinth of opaque permit transactions.
Could The Iranians By Lying?
Lying Iranians?! Say it isn't so! Those who oppose harsh action against Iran's nuclear program stand ready to believe that Iran is pursuing nukes for purely peaceful energy-producing reasons. Then why this?
Iran Building 7 Refineries to Hike CapacityInvesting $23 billion of an economically depressed nation's revenues in power plants it wouldn't need if it had a nuclear power grid seems even madder than what we've come to expect from the Tehraniacs.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran is constructing seven refineries in an effort to boost its crude and gas refining capacity by more than 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), a senior oil official said Saturday.
"The construction of seven refineries has started with the investment of 15 billion euros ($23.22 billion)," MNA quoted Aminollah Eskandari, a director of the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) as saying.
"About 1.56 million barrels will be added to the country's capacity to refine crude oil and gas derivatives," he added.
Too Little, Too Late
Barack Obama has left Trinity United -- one month after Rev. Wright accused the prez wannabe of distancing himself from his true beliefs for political reasons and a week after Michael Pflegar exhibited some of the most flagrant racism in recent time from the Trinity pulpit. Here's his typically over-long and elegant statement:
In it, Obama blames the media for what's happened:
But it's clear that now that I'm a candidate for president, every times something is said in the church by anyone associated with Trinity, including guest pastors, the remarks will be imputed to me, even if they totally conflict with my long-held views, statements and principles.He accuses news organizations of harassing members, which is warranted because pack journalism is an ugly thing. It took them a long time to wake up to Rev. Wright, but now that they're awake, there's no moderating them.
Obama said he's leaving the church in part to protect the parishioners from the media onslaught -- "That's just not how people should have to operate in their church." -- but he never says anything about protecting the American people from the crazy, racist, hate that is the stuff of sermons at Trinity.
He has "separated" himself from those teachings, but he has never sufficiently condemned Wright and his teachings for what they are: racist hatemongers.
Water, Water, Not All Around
The other CSM writes (via Environmental News) about water as the next oil, and they've got it half-right. We can survive without oil, but not without water -- so a massive water shortage will bring suffering, war and death.
Cyprus will ferry water from Greece this summer. Australian cities are buying water from that nation’s farmers and building desalination plants. Thirsty China plans to divert Himalayan water. And 18 million southern Californians are bracing for their first water-rationing in years.Socialists are taking note:
Water, Dow Chemical Chairman Andrew Liveris told the World Economic Forum in February, “is the oil of this century.” Developed nations have taken cheap, abundant fresh water largely for granted. Now global population growth, pollution, and climate change are shaping a new view of water as “blue gold.”
“We’re at a transition point where fundamental decisions need to be made by societies about how this basic human need — water — is going to be provided,” says Christopher Kilian, clean-water program director for the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation. “The profit motive and basic human need [for water] are just inherently in conflict.”Some readers might be surprised that I agree with the socialists on this one. In 1995 we helped preserve a local, public water district fight off a take-over attempt by a private water company. Our research on that case showed that private water companies charged more than public agencies and didn't invest as much in infrastructure.
Plus, public agencies are better suited to fight off challenges from whacked-out environmentalists, who continue to attack new water infrastructure projects despite mounting evidence of the need to address global water shortages.