Saturday, July 12, 2008
"Mexico, Brazil, China, India and South Africa challenged the Group of Eight countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80% by 2050.
The so-called G5 countries threw down the gauntlet in a statement before they joined the G8 summit in Japan. " ....
.... "The chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, RK Pachauri, said developed countries should show leadership.
"They should get off the backs of India and China," he told reporters in the Indian capital, Delhi.
"They should say: 'We'll assist you to move to a pattern of development which is sustainable, low in terms of emissions intensity. But we as the richest nations are willing to take the lead and we affirm our commitment to do so.'"
Friday, July 11, 2008
NINE years ago, Ahmad Batebi appeared on the cover of The Economist. He was a 21-year-old student, one of thousands who protested against Iran’s government that summer. He was photographed holding aloft a T-shirt bespattered with the blood of a fellow protester. Soon afterwards, he was arrested and shown our issue of July 17th 1999. “With this”, he was told, “you have signed your death warrant.”
He was sentenced to death for “creating street unrest”. But after a global outcry, the sentence was commuted to 15 years in jail. He speculates that his high profile made it hard to kill him without attracting negative publicity. For two years, he was kept in solitary confinement, in a cell that was little more than a toilet hole with a wooden board on top. He was tortured constantly. Only when he was allowed to mingle with other prisoners again did he begin to overcome his despair.
During his interrogation he was blindfolded and beaten with cables until he passed out. His captors rubbed salt into his wounds to wake him up, so they could torture him more. They held his head in a drain full of sewage until he inhaled it. He recalls yearning for a swift death to end the pain. He was played recordings of what he was told was his mother being tortured. His captors wanted him to betray his fellow students, to implicate them in various crimes and to say on television that the blood on that T-shirt was only red paint. He says he refused.
He suffered a partial stroke that left the right side of his body without feeling. He needed medical attention. The regime did not want to be blamed for him dying behind bars, he says, so he was allowed out for treatment. Three months ago, on the day of the Persian new year, he escaped into Iraq. On June 24th he arrived in America.
He spoke to The Economist on July 7th. Looking at the picture that sparked his ordeal, he says that another man in his place might be angry, but he is not. Mr Batebi is a photographer himself. He says he understands what journalism involves. Had we not published the picture, he says, another paper might have. Looking at the same picture, his lawyer, interpreter and friend Lily Mazahery says she is close to tears: in it, the young Mr Batebi’s pale arms are as yet unscarred by torture.
The protests Mr Batebi took part in nine years ago frightened Iran’s rulers. The students were angry about censorship, the persecution of intellectuals and the thugs who beat up any student overheard disparaging the regime. Mr Batebi thinks Iran could well turn solidly democratic some day. In neighbouring states, religious extremism is popular. In Iran, he says, the government is religiously extreme, but the people are not.
He is cagey about how exactly he escaped. But he says he used a cellphone camera to record virtually every step of his journey, and will soon go public with the pictures and his commentary. Meanwhile, he seems to be enjoying America. He praises the way “people have the opportunity to become who they want to be”. Shortly after he arrived, he posted a picture of himself in front of the Capitol on his Farsi-language blog, with the caption: “Your hands will never touch me again.”
Thursday, July 10, 2008
- Computer Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Computer Science
- Mechanical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Political Science
At the university where I teach, criminal justice and psychology are huge magnets for students. Those students might be shocked at the report in Forbes:
The reality is that few psychology majors move on to graduate school--and the career path for the rest of the group: not so rich. Psychology majors during their first few years out of school typically make around $35,000; those with 10 to 20 years' experience are pulling in $54,000. Those are the second-lowest incomes in both cases in our study of the most lucrative college majors. Only criminal justice majors fare worse.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Responding to the same temptation to offload expenses into the future, public employers have committed to trillions of dollars in future liabilities. In New Jersey, a huge pension liability has created a budgetary nightmare for the state. The city of Vallejo, Calif., burdened by police pensions, recently filed for bankruptcy.
Just as G.M.’s shareholders bore the burdens of its pensions, states and cities will have to force taxpayers to sacrifice in the form of service cuts, tax increases or both.
It is too late to restore G.M. to its former grandeur. But if public officials do not show courage by quickly funding the pensions they have promised to their workers, taxpayers will soon find themselves in an even worse crisis than the one G.M.’s shareholders are facing now.
What an interesting week: I came back from vacation to find the two presumptive presidential nominees running away from their bases. Suddenly John McCain is evading, not embracing, the media, limiting access and getting testy with the very people whose formerly friendly coverage made him a popular "maverick." Meanwhile Barack Obama is complaining that his "friends on the left" just don't understand him – he's not moving to the center, he is "no doubt" a progressive, just one who now supports the scandalous FISA "compromise" and Antonin Scalia's views on gun rights and the death penalty, no longer plans to accept public campaign funding, and wants to make sure women aren't feigning mental distress to get a "partial-birth" abortion (the right's despicable term of choice; the correct phrase is either late-term or third-trimester abortion.) .....
I've admired Obama, but I never confused him with a genuine progressive leader. Today I don't admire him at all. His collapse on FISA is unforgiveable.
Meanwhile, here is a news item from a different part of the US--Muskegon, MI:
A man, allegedly upset over a real estate transaction, shot a realtor in the head at the realtor's office Tuesday morning.
Robert Johnson, 73, walked into Nexes Realty at 880 Broadway in Muskegon and asked for the realtor, Troy VanderStelt, by name. He went into a conference room and waited.
"It appears this was essentially an execution-style murder in the conference room," Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague said. "He went over there with a handgun, asked specifically for this real estate agent, went into a conference room and within minutes fired a shot at point blank range into the side of the victim's head."
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Volatile India-Pakistan Standoff Enters 11,680th Day
Monday, July 07, 2008
The Financial Times reports:
George W. Bush said he was prepared to be "constructive" in discussions on climate change yesterday, although the president insisted that any agreement depended on the participation of China and India.
And, this is what India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, said, according to The Hindu:
I had said (last year at the Heiligendamm G-8 summit) that India’s per capita emissions of greenhouse gases will never exceed the average of the developed countries, and therefore if the developed countries make deeper cuts, that will be an incentive for us to move at a faster pace”
Too bad that David Leonhardt is taking a break until September--we will miss his wonderful observations like this one:
The common thread in these myths is that they serve to minimize the scope of the economy’s weakness. They make it sound as if the problems are acute — job cuts, oil speculation, a little real estate overexuberance — rather than fundamental.
For the first time on record, an economic expansion seems to have just ended without most families having received a raise. For the first time on record, the typical home price nationwide is falling. The inflation-adjusted value of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has dropped 20 percent in the last year — and 30 percent since its peak in 2000.
I think the public has called this issue exactly right: the American economy has some real problems. Even if this summer’s downturn turns out to be mild, those problems aren’t mild — or simple — and they aren’t going away anytime soon. It’s going to take some real work.
Jesse Helms died on the Fourth of July. Well, ok, other than the Carolinans and political junkies, most Americans might not have heard of him. The Washington Post reprinted David Broder's column from 2001, when Helms announced his retirement from the Senate. In that column, Broder wrote, "What really sets Jesse Helms apart is that he is the last prominent unabashed white racist politician in this country -- a title that one hopes will now be permanently retired."
Christopher Hitchens does not try to sugar coat his obit piece. (But then when has Hitchens ever done any sugar coating in any of his writings!) I liked this paragraph the best:
It was a scandal that a man with so little knowledge of the outside world should have had such a stranglehold on American foreign policy for so long. He once introduced Benazir Bhutto as the prime minister of India. All right, that could have happened to anybody. But what about the hearings on North Korea in which he made repeated references to "Kim Jong the Second"? In order to prevent any repetition of this idiotic gaffe, Helms' staff propped up a piece of card on which was clearly written the pronunciation "Kim Jong ILL." The senator from North Carolina duly made the adjustment, referring thenceforth to the North Korean despot as "Kim Jong the Third."
BTW, did you read Hitchens' piece on waterboarding? Here it is.
"I believe it is right to adopt a more cautious approach until the evidence is clearer about the wider environmental and social effects of biofuels. We also need to allow time for more sustainable biofuel technologies to emerge."
Later on, in the same report from the Guardian, is an example of horrible use of metaphors. Why didn't the editor axe this?
Mark Avery of the RSPB said: "We all know what someone who finds themselves in a hole should do. This review seems to be saying that it's OK to keep digging, as long as we dig with a little less enthusiasm. The review's analysis is based on rational argument but its conclusion comes with a large dollop of politics mixed in."
Sunday, July 06, 2008
The Canadians are concerned that their spending on higher education is falling behind spending in the US, and elsewhere. And we in the US point to spending in other countries as proof that we need to up the ante ....
Excerpt from the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Four-year public universities and colleges in the United States have significantly more resources for teaching and research than their counterparts in Australia, Canada, and Britain, according to a report by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.
The resource gap between Canadian and U.S. universities in particular has been growing over the past 30 years
A single bomb dropped over Iran will push the world over the ultimate tipping point towards a chaos that can be beyond the wildest imagination.
Here is an excerpt from the NY Review of Books:
At a moment of serious challenge, battered by two wars, ballooning debt, and a faltering economy, the United States appears to have lost its capacity to think clearly. Consider what passes for national discussion on the matter of Iran. The open question is whether the United States should or will attack Iran if it continues to reject American demands to give up uranium enrichment. Ignore for the moment whether the United States has any legal or moral justification for attacking Iran. Set aside the question whether Iran, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently claimed in a speech at West Point, "is hellbent on acquiring nuclear weapons." Focus instead on purely practical questions. By any standards Iran is a tough nut to crack: it is nearly three times the size of Texas, with a population of 70 million and a big income from oil which the world cannot afford to lose. Iran is believed to have the ability to block the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf through which much of the world's oil must pass on its way to market.
Keep in mind that the rising price of oil already threatens the world's economy. Iran also has a large army and deep ties to the population of Shiite coreligionists next door in Iraq. The American military already has its hands full with a hard-to-manage war in Iraq, and is proposing to send additional combat brigades to deal with a growing insurgency in Afghanistan. And yet with all these sound reasons for avoiding war with Iran, the United States for five years has repeatedly threatened it with military attack. These threats have lately acquired a new edge.