Sunday, September 11, 2011

Texas Gov. Perry and science

A regular reader of this blog has become so irritated at Leftists labeling Texas Gov. Perry as “anti science”, that he has sent the following for me to publish:

In the context of labeling Texas Gov Rick Perry as “anti science” over his skepticism about Global Warming (thousands of “real scientists” agree with him), here is MY not so humble opinion:

* I have an MD from SUNY Buffalo, a Residency in Anesthesiology at Mass General Hospital (Harvard U) and a PhD from Mass Institute of Technology in biological science. So I might be considered a “science guy”.

* NASA is in Texas. Texas Medical Center, with more than 50, 000 employees dedicated to science and the practice of medicine, is unique in all the world. UT Houston Medical School matches grants 1 to 1, unheard of elsewhere.

* Texas Southwestern University in Dallas has a number of Nobel Prize winners.

* Funding of University of Texas and Texas A&M University is, in part, by the “permanent university fund”, by dividends from oil money; for physical plant, second to none.

* Many “high tech” businesses have descended on Austin, perhaps, in part, of “deal making” by Perry and others.

The list goes on. But for me, it’s personal:

At age 67, I have 4 children who graduated from Lubbock HS in Lubbock, TX (the “town in the rear view mirror”). All 4 were on the Lubbock HS Math and Science Team. IVY colleges recruited there.

* Daughter Jane (now age 39, with son Roey – age 3 this week) graduated from Columbia U in History and Sociology, and attained a Masters in Statistics from Columbia U. PhD from UC Berkeley. Now studying Russian Economics at U AZ Tucson.

* Son Tom was Math and Science champion of Texas, Team won national competition, got trip to DC (photo with First Lady Barbara Bush) and Australia courtesy of Supercollider Project. Grad Cal Tech, now programmer in Santa Barbara CA.

* Son Scott got BA Biology from Rice U, now Pharm D from Midwestern U in Phoenix.

* Daughter Leslie got degree in Computer Science from Bryn Mawr in Philly, now programmer (troubleshooter) for Microsoft in Seattle.

So PLEASE – don’t give me this crap about Texans or Perry being “anti science”.


The blocked ears of political correctness allowed the 9/11 disaster to happen

All the intelligence needed to stop the attacks was there but nobody at the top wanted to hear it

Like millions of people around the world, former US intelligence operative Haig Melkessetian remembers exactly what he was doing on the morning of September 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda terrorists attacked New York and Washington.

But even as he learnt of the carnage, he felt sick with anger and frustration. Over the preceding two years, Melkessetian had taken part in two separate investigations in the Middle East which might have thwarted the attacks – only to find his work dismissed as irrelevant.

He had identified the secret ‘hawala’ method which the hijackers would use to transfer money from al-Qaeda into their bank accounts, and the very office in the Persian Gulf they would use.

He also passed on to his bosses the real means by which the Taliban could be ousted and Bin Laden delivered up: by ‘buying off’ much of their tribal, military support. This was the very plan later deployed to defeat the Taliban - but only after the disaster of 9/11.

Like many other ground-level operatives in Western intelligence and security services, he had to stand back while the hidebound bureaucrats at the top failed to take action.

‘In 2001, you could feel the terrorist train coming down the tracks,’ says a former FBI counterterrorism analyst. ‘But at the top, they just weren’t listening to the people in the trenches, and their perspective was ignored.’ And while Melkessetsian’s story exemplifies that problem, it hasn’t, he adds, been rectified.

Ten years later, his bitter disappointment is as intense as ever. ‘I watched it unfold on TV,’ his says Melkessetian. ‘I knew immediately that this was a terrorist attack. And my next thought was that this should never have happened.’

A Christian Lebanese of Armenian descent who has been a naturalised US citizen since 1984, Melkessetian, 49, has revealed his story to the Mail on Sunday for the first time. But inside the secretive community of counterterrorism experts, he has long inspired awe.

‘We see movie characters like James Bond and Jason Bourne, and we assume they’re simply fiction,’ says a former US State Department official who knows Melkessetian well. ‘But then you meet Haig and realise he matches the fictional narrative with fact.’

Melkessetian’s attitudes were determined by his upbringing. ‘Being a Christian in the Middle East wasn’t easy,’ he says. ‘The terrorists started with us and just kept on going until they blew up New York.’

By the age of 17, he was fighting with the Christians’ special forces in Lebanon’s brutal civil war, and in the 1980s he played a key role in a secret intelligence unit that located the secret prisons run by Shia extremists, where more than 20 western hostages, including the British journalist John McCarthy, were being held hostage.

By the summer of 1986, he and his colleagues had planned a daring military operation that would have both freed the hostages and inflicted serious damage on the terrorists’ network.

But after months of Washington in-fighting, it was vetoed. ‘They were just too risk-averse,’ says Melkessetian. ‘The same weakness bedevilled us before 9/11.’

Melkessetian’s fluent Arabic and cultural knowledge meant he was able to move freely around the Gulf states, mixing easily with all strata of society, from Arab police and security chiefs to the denizens of the souks.

‘Pretty soon his unit, Detachment 246, was the single most productive source of actionable intelligence in the whole CENTCOM area [which covers most of the Middle East and Central Asia],’ the former State Department official says. ‘That was down to Haig.’

Melkessetian’s March 2000 official staff appraisal praised his ‘extensive knowledge of terrorist groups, membership and leadership,’ and his ‘unique ability’ at recruiting local sources. It added: ‘His role was the reason for gaining vital intelligence information, which was passed on to the highest levels of the US government.’

Much more HERE


The Texas model

Below is the second part of an article that contrasts government-dominated Detroit, MI, with business-friendly Houston in Texas

Mario Loyola

During World War II, Detroit was called “the Arsenal of Democracy,” but Houston was hardly less critical. It contributed ships, airplanes, and, of course, oil to the war effort. While Detroit suffered from the consolidated nature of its core industry, Houston thrived on its diversity. The land from which the precious resource was extracted was owned by thousands of private citizens. The oil was extracted by hundreds of independent drillers and operators. Huge multinational corporations eventually aggregated in Houston, but their interests were not entirely coincident with those of the independents, which limited the ability of all parties to seek political favors.

The Texas oil boom continued for most of the 20th century. During the 1970s, the Houston Chronicle became widely distributed in Detroit, chiefly for its help-wanted ads. By the early 1980s, “black taggers” — cars bearing the black Michigan license plate — were a common sight in Houston. In the second half of the century, the size of the two cities’ population positions flipped. In the 1950s, Detroit had 2 million residents, Houston only about 700,000. Today, Houston has far more than 2 million residents, Detroit just over 700,000.

But Houston would suffer its own bad luck. In 1985 the Saudis abandoned their position as “swing producer” in OPEC and dramatically ramped up production, from 2 million barrels per day to 5 million barrels, in a matter of months. The price of a barrel of oil fell from an average of nearly $30 in 1985 to around $20 in January 1986 and then nosedived to under $10 by midyear.

For Houston, “it was a bloodbath,” recalls one former Shell executive. Profit margins had already been in the single digits, and businesses rapidly went bust left and right. In a matter of months, massive layoffs rocked the city. Real-estate values plunged, and Texas was sucked into the savings-and-loan crisis. The unemployment rate for the state as a whole jumped from 6.1 percent in September 1984 to 9.3 percent just two years later.

As soon as oil prices fell, the independent oil producers cried out for protection, much as Detroit’s Big Three had done just a few years before. But the largely Houston-based oil giants were international traders, so they fought against tariffs. Beset by these conflicting appeals from the oil sector, the government was paralyzed in its response — and, happily, did nothing. Unemployment rates in the city dropped quickly, reaching 5 percent in 1990.

More recently, Houston has benefited from a spike in oil prices, and for that Texans can thank Washington liberals more than Lone Star conservatives. Obama’s policies, and those of congressional Democrats, have significantly constricted the domestic production of oil, creating upward price pressure. These policies don’t benefit the environment a whit; the chief beneficiaries are the oil companies, which see windfall profits as the value of their reserves rises.

Texas likes to brag that it is “business friendly,” but it would be more accurate to say that it is, by both philosophy and force of circumstances, “competition friendly.” Like most states, Texas has an economic-development fund, but it’s a small one: Since it was created, the Texas Enterprise Fund has disbursed slightly less than $363 million. That’s one-tenth the amount Michigan has spent on economic development in recent years, and Texas has almost three times the population. In other words, the government of Texas spends about one-thirtieth as much per person on corporate-development projects as Michigan.

Texas has prospered from the fact that it is a right-to-work state. This is not to say that Texas is anti-labor, or even that it is anti-union. Many refineries in Texas are unionized. But Texas seeks to reward labor through the free market. In the words of one former Shell executive, “If you’ve got good management, people aren’t going to want to get unionized. And management has gotten smarter and smarter over time. That’s why the unions are in trouble.

Houston weathered the storm nicely, in large part through a rapid reallocation of human and material resources. Diversification was the key. Before the bust, the energy sector accounted for about 80 percent of Houston’s economy; now it’s barely 50 percent. Of the 51 Texas companies on the Fortune 500 list, there are computer makers, airlines, retailers, gas-and-electrical utilities, food-and-grocery companies, construction companies, and a telecommunications company. The Texas Medical Center in Houston is the world’s largest, employing nearly 100,000 people and receiving nearly 6 million patients per year.

The diversification of Houston’s economy has been particularly potent in heavy industry. For the state as a whole, employment in the oil-and-gas sector increased by 5.1 percent between June 2010 and June 2011, largely because of natural-gas projects made possible by “fracking.” Employment in heavy construction and civil-engineering construction, by contrast, increased 10.6 percent in the same period; in primary metal manufacturing, 6.6 percent; in fabricated metal products, 8.2 percent; and in machinery manufacturing, 11.9 percent. Meanwhile, the government work force contracted 1 percent.

Tolerance of cultural diversity has become a hallmark of Houston’s ascent, despite the state’s checkered history of race relations. Texans take individual freedom and individual responsibility very seriously, so meritocracy comes naturally to them. In the words of George Strake, one of Houston’s most venerated oilmen, “Everyone’s welcome here, so long as you’re willing to pull the wagon and not just sit in it.” That is perhaps why anti-immigrant feeling is not nearly as pronounced in Texas as it is in other parts of the Southwest. Like Detroit, Houston is minority white, but more diverse: Blacks make up 25 percent of the population, Hispanics 37 percent, and Asians (chiefly Vietnamese and Chinese) more than 5 percent.

Texas has managed to preserve something very essential about America, namely the frontier mentality, what the great Texas historian T. R. Fehrenbach described as the “cult of courage.” Or, in the words of Mr. Strake, “Give me wide open spaces. Let me enjoy the good times, and don’t feel sorry for me in bad times.” Naturally, this leads to a certain vision of government: Defend our shores, deliver the mail, and get the hell out of the way.

Gov. Rick Perry has been true to that vision. When recession created enormous gaps in the state budget, as in 2003 and 2011, Perry resisted pressure to raise taxes or raid the state’s “rainy day fund,” and managed to balance the budget mostly through spending cuts. (The state still has no personal-income tax.) Perry’s signature tort reforms essentially broke the power of the trial bar and have drawn thousands of doctors and substantial business investment to Texas.

The state’s environmental health has improved dramatically as state regulators worked to meet national air-quality standards in cost-effective ways without imposing needless burdens on business. Houston, home of the world’s largest petrochemical industrial complex, satisfied federal ozone standards in 2009 and 2010, after massive investments by the private sector. Perry can justly run on a record of keeping government off people’s backs and letting the free market innovate its way out of recession. The Lone Star State is now the industrial engine of the American economy, singlehandedly responsible for half of the country’s job growth in recent years.

James Madison believed that one purpose of government was “to reward the best and punish the worst.” In Detroit, the best were punished until they finally left, and under Obama, the country is marching down that very same slope. That’s the significance of losing half our deepwater drilling rigs to other shores, of forcing corporations to relocate to Europe in order to avoid stifling corporate tax rates, of shutting down coal plants regardless of recent retrofits and other emissions improvements.

As the next election looms, Americans should consider how rapidly we could unleash the power of American industry and bounce out of this recession, if instead of taking our cue from Detroit, we follow Houston.



Israeli embassy personnel in Cairo rescued from violent protests

Some 80 personnel and family members of Israel's embassy in Cairo are safe after being removed in an emergency rescue operation.

During a riot outside the embassy Friday night, violent protesters broke down the eight-foot-high security wall surrounding the embassy compound and entered the building.

Once the riots turned violent, Israel's ambassador to Egypt, embassy personnel, their families and Israelis staying at the embassy were evacuated to Cairo's airport and returned to Israel on a special Israel Air Force flight.

Six employees stranded in the building were later removed by an Egyptian commando unit during a special rescue operation in which the men reportedly dressed in Arab kaffiyeh headdresses.

More than 1,000 Egyptians demonstrated at the embassy, many after an Egyptian Facebook group called on protesters to gather at the embassy and "urinate on the wall," Ynet reported



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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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