Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II

May Pope John Paul II rest in peace and may the Holy Father continue to serve as a role model for individuals throughout the entire world.

Pope John II Posted by Hello

President Bush Calls Pope 'Champion of Human Dignity'

This Saturday morning via Reuters : "Bush opened his weekly radio address with a comment about John Paul, who lies close to death at the Vatican.

``His Holiness is a faithful servant of God and a champion of human dignity and freedom. He is an inspiration to us all. Laura and I join millions of Americans and so many around the world who are praying for the Holy Father,'' he said."

David Brooks on Intelligence Failures

The NYT's David Brooks with The Art of Intelligence: "the presidential panel on intelligence pointed to the same failings found by other reports. It said intelligence analysts 'displayed a lack of imagination.'"

"...the problem is not bureaucratic. It's epistemological. Individuals are good at using intuition and imagination to understand other humans."

"...When you try to analyze human affairs using a process that is systematic, codified and bureaucratic, as the C.I.A. does, you anesthetize all of these tools. You don't produce reason - you produce what Irving Kristol called the elephantiasis of reason."

Brooks concludes: "I'll believe it's been reformed when there's a big sign in front of C.I.A. headquarters that reads: Individuals think better than groups."

Friday, April 01, 2005

Google Grows

Remember my post from a few days ago on another Google acquisition; here's proof they intend to do much more soon - Google Outlines Plan To Spend to Expand ( "Google Inc. is planning to rapidly boost spending this year to expand operations and promote its brand name as the Internet giant braces for increased competition from rivals.
In its first annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission since going public in August, Google disclosed this week that it anticipates spending more than $500 million on technology and other capital items in 2005, a substantial jump over the $319 million it spent in 2004 and the $176.8 million it spent in 2003. The company also said that its payroll, which grew to 3,021 in 2004 from 1,628 employees in 2003, must grow significantly to support its global expansion and research efforts, and to compete effectively with the two bigger firms it identified as its chief competitors, Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. "

Krauthammer: Importance of Syria

Syria and the New Axis of Evil (
"As Iraq, in fits and starts, begins finding its way to self-rule, the center of gravity of the Bush Doctrine and the American democratization project shifts to Lebanon/Syria. The rapid evacuation and collapse of the Syrian position in Lebanon is crucial not just because of what it will do for Lebanon but because of the weakening effect it will have on the Assad dictatorship.

We need, therefore, to be relentless in insisting on a full (and as humiliating as possible) evacuation of Syria from Lebanon, followed by a campaign of economic, political and military pressure on the Assad regime. We must push now and push hard. "

Read it all to understand his insightful reasoning.

Mark Steyn on Terri Schavio

Everyone needs to read every word of Steyn on Schavio just out yesterday online in the latest issue of The

"Fortunately, if you want to execute someone who hasn't committed a crime, you don't need to worry with any of this 'beyond a reasonable doubt' stuff. If an al-Qaeda guy got shot up resisting capture in Afghanistan and required a feeding tube and the guards at Guantanamo yanked it out, you'd never hear the end of it from the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International and all the rest. Even given the litigious nature of American society, it still strikes me as remarkable that someone can be literally sued to death, and at the hands of a probate judge. Unlike other condemned prisoners, there's no hope of a last-minute reprieve from the governor. That's to say, he did reprieve her, and so did the legislature, and the US Congress and President - and the Florida courts have declared them all irrelevant."

Terri Schavio Posted by Hello

Berger National Security Violations Not Accidental

Berger Will Plead Guilty To Taking Classified Paper ( "The terms of Berger's agreement required him to acknowledge to the Justice Department the circumstances of the episode. Rather than misplacing or unintentionally throwing away three of the five copies he took from the archives, as the former national security adviser earlier maintained, he shredded them with a pair of scissors late one evening at the downtown offices of his international consulting business. "

"...Berger's archives visit occurred as he was reviewing materials as a designated representative of the Clinton administration to the national commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The question of what Clinton knew and did about the emerging al Qaeda threat before leaving office in January 2001 was acutely sensitive, as suggested by Berger's determination to spend hours poring over the Clarke report before his testimony.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

VOIP: The Seven Myths

Here is a link to a good background article on VOIP including the players, the stakes, the technology, and the future see an Feature Article: "VoIP means doing voice communications over the same networks that we rely on for data communications: the local networks that connect to our computers and the Internet that links them all together...low costs, and the efficiencies for carriers of maintaining a single, unified telecommunications network, guarantee that all telephony will eventually be done over IP. Essentially everyone in the telecommunications industry agrees on that. "

The Inequities of Fair Trade and Why Free Trade is the Answer

An important political and economic differerence in highlighted by the The
"Free trade used to be seen as a progressive, liberalising force. By spreading economic freedom across the world, it enhanced prosperity, raised living standards and improved international relations. Yet in recent decades it has been transmuted by the propagandists of the Left into one of the darker elements of Western capitalism, portrayed as a brutal weapon used by governments and multinational corporations to exploit the impoverished of the Third World. "

"As so many intervention schemes — such as the scandalous oil-for-food programme in Iraq — have proved, regulation and subsidy only benefit corrupt politicians and bureaucrats in the long term. The bigger the fair trade sector becomes, the more it will be prone to waste and mismanagement. The only real way of improving the lot of Third World economies is through free trade, opening up markets rather than distorting them — and that includes the abolition in Western economies of iniquitous subsidies like the CAP in Europe or steel tariffs in the US. The developing countries which have enjoyed the greatest leaps in prosperity in the last half century are those that have embraced international competitive trade. "

Wonder why many UK publications cover issues with more depth and thought than US ones; I suspect it has to do with the patience and understanding of their respect readers and the goals of the publications themselves.

George Will on Tax Reform Ideas

The Tax Plan To Kill K Street ( "The power to tax involves, as Chief Justice John Marshall said, the power to destroy. So does the power of tax reform, which is one reason why Rep. John Linder, a Georgia Republican, has a 133-page bill to replace 55,000 pages of tax rules.
His bill would abolish the Internal Revenue Service and the many billions of tax forms it sends out and receives. He would erase the federal income tax system -- personal and corporate income taxes, the regressive payroll tax and self-employment tax, capital gains, gift and estate taxes, the alternative minimum tax, and the earned-income tax credit -- and replace all that with a 23 percent national sales tax on personal consumption. That would not only sensitize consumers to the cost of government with every purchase, it would destroy K Street. "

And his bill untaxes the poor by including an advance monthly rebate for every household equal to the sales tax on consumption of essential goods and services, as calculated by the government, up to the annually adjusted poverty level.

Corporations do not pay payroll and income taxes and compliance costs; they collect them from consumers through prices. So the 23 percent consumption tax would allow taxpayers to stop paying the huge embedded cost of corporate taxation. Linder says the director of the Congressional Budget Office told him it costs individuals and businesses about $500 billion to remit $2 trillion to Washington. And studies show that it costs the average small business $724 to collect and remit $100..."

Read it all and honestly consider it as a valid possibility to reform our national tax nightmare.

NRO on Schiavo: 'Killed by Euphemism'

From National Review Online (and inserts and bold added): "There was an honest, forthright case for ending the life of Terri Schiavo. It was that her life no longer had any value, for herself or others, and that ending it the quicker the better would spare everyone misery. We disagree with that view, holding it wiser to stick with the Judeo-Christian tradition on the sanctity of innocent life. But the people who made this [the err on the side of life] case deserve some credit for straightforwardness."

"...But while the public may have agreed with the removal of Schiavo's feeding and hydration tube, apparently there are limits to the public's willingness to tolerate euthanasia and apparently its defenders recognized these limits. So we saw euphemism after euphemism deployed to cloud the issues."

"...Perhaps chief among these was the fiction that we were "letting her die."

"...The charade here was not performed to protect Terri Schiavo's dignity but to increase the public's comfort with the devaluation of life.

"...Next time it will be easier. It always is. The tolerance of early-term abortion made it possible to tolerate partial-birth abortion, and to give advanced thinkers a hearing when they advocate outright infanticide. Letting the courts decide such life-and-death issues made it possible for us to let them decide others, made it seem somehow wrong for anyone to stand in their way. Now they are helping to snuff out the minimally conscious. Who's next? "

Oil Prices Result of Global Demand

Victor A. Canto and Samir Ghia on Oil Prices and the Economy on NRO Financial: "The surge in oil prices has managed to grab the market's attention. Some analysts worry that higher oil prices, acting like a new tax on the economy, could choke the recovery and drive us into recession. But the correlation between oil prices and the economy depends on the nature of the oil shock. And in a way, this oil shock is good natured. "
today’s rising oil prices are the result of global economic expansion. This is good news: Rising oil prices caused by an increase in demand cannot cause a recession. In fact the opposite is quite true: A recession would lead to lower oil prices.

The Federal Reserve and inflation worriers in general should take note of all this. Inflation is too much money chasing too few goods, and higher growth produces lower inflation, not higher inflation. Hence, the growth-driven oil-price increase will lead to a boost in supply and eventually lower oil prices."

Richard Gere in WSJ on Tibet

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "Europe and Washington's most substantial means for pressure is certainly the weapons embargo, which they imposed on China after the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989. Yet the EU is now seriously considering lifting the embargo--it should not. Sixteen years later, China still has not substantively addressed the human rights abuses that led to the embargo, and, in fact, many of those involved in the 1989 demonstrations continue to linger in prison. In Tibet itself, severe restrictions on freedom of expression, association and religion remain in place. This record should not be rewarded with weapons exports."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Liberty Files: The Morphine Connection

Liberty Files: The Morphine Connection: "As an attorney with significant familiarity with medical issues, the fact that Terri Schiavo is receiving morphine doses...makes me wonder whether Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, really believes the dung he is shoveling, or he is simply a shill for the creepy right to die movement.

Morphine has only palliative value. It can only relieve pain and add comfort. But why on earth would a brain-dead person whose expedition towards the hereafter is described by Felos as 'very peaceful. She looked calm...' require relief of pain? They claimed earlier that her alleged persistent vegetative state and alleged absence of cerebral activity precluded any experience of pain."

Schiavo on Morphine to Relieve Pain - Pain in a PVS State?

My Way News: "Schindler said he feared the consequences of morphine that has been used to relieve his daughter's pain.
'I have a great concern that they will expedite the process to kill her with an overdose of morphine because that's the procedure that happens,' he said.
Felos disputed that, saying that hospice records show Schiavo was given two low doses of morphine - one on March 19 and another on March 26 - and that she was not on a morphine drip. The records show that the second dose was given after nurses noticed 'light moaning and facial grimacing and tensing of arms,' he said.
Hospice spokesman Mike Bell said federal rules kept him from discussing Schiavo specifically, but said 'a fundamental part of hospice is that we would do nothing to either hasten or postpone natural death.'
Comfort measures, including morphine drips, are used in consultation with a patient's guardian, physician and hospice care team, Bell said."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Google Buys Another Web Firm

Google buys Web statistics firm
By Frank Barnako, MarketWatch Last Update: 2:36 PM ET Mar 29, 2005
"WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Google has acquired a software company whose technology could help improve its AdSense and Blogger services.
Terms of the purchase of Urchin Software Corp. were not disclosed by the companies.
Urchin, based in San Diego, develops software help marketers maximize their online efforts. Its tools track e-mails, click throughs on ads and conversions to sales. They are used by companies including all 100 members of the Fortune 100, Urchin said.
Adding Urchin features to AdSense could help Web sites' operators better track the effectiveness of their site and its advertising efficiency. Users of Google's Web-log service could also benefit from statistical analysis of visits and page reads. It is possible Google could offer the services free or for a fee."

Again MarketWatch is free with all kinds of neat services.

Bill Would Legislate Maryland Students' Use of Sunscreen- Really

"Montgomery County schools require a doctor's note for children to use sunscreen. Howard County requires a note from parents, and the lotion must be stored in the nurse's office. Anne Arundel students, by contrast, may carry and apply sunscreen with impunity.
A bill pending in the Maryland legislature, however, would require school health officers to make sure students are allowed to wear sunscreen when they go outdoors on sunny days, a right that is not universally recognized in schools, according to cancer prevention advocates. "

Court Rules Telecommuter Must Pay Taxes

Court Rules Telecommuter Must Pay Taxes: "A telecommuter who lives out of state while working by computer for a New York employer must pay New York tax on his full income, the state's highest court ruled Tuesday in a case that could have wide implications in the growing practice.
The Court of Appeals said that computer programmer Thomas Huckaby who lives in Nashville, Tenn., owed New York income tax for his full salary, not just the time he spent working at his employer's New York offices."
``New York has the right to tax 100 percent of a nonresident employee's income derived from New York sources,'' according to the 4-3 decision by Court of Appeals. The court relied on a fairness rule called the ``convenience of the employer'' under law that says a worker's income is taxable if he chooses to live outside the state, as opposed to if he or she was transferred there.

In a strong dissent, Judge Robert Smith argued that the basis of the majority's decision that all income is taxable is ``that the commissioner says it is ... The majority cites no authority at all, and offers no persuasive reason, in support of this new interpretation.''

``To say a person's taxability depends on where his employer is wrong,'' said Huckaby's attorney, Peter Faber of New York City. ``I think this is an issue of national significance.''

Brazil Getting the Poor Online

"Since taking office two years ago, President Luiz Incio Lula da Silva has turned Brazil into a tropical outpost of the free software movement..."

"...By the end of April, the government plans to roll out a much ballyhooed program called PC Conectado, or Connected PC, aimed at helping millions of low-income Brazilians buy their first computers."

"Under the program, which is expected to offer tax incentives for computer makers to cut prices and a generous payment plan for consumers, the government hopes to offer desktops for around 1,400 reais ($509) or less. The machines will be comparable to those costing almost twice that outside the program.

Buyers will be able to pay in 24 installments of 50 to 60 reais, or about $18 to $21.80 a month, an amount affordable for many working poor. The country's top three fixed-line telephone companies - Telefónica of Spain; Tele Norte Leste Participações, or Telemar; and Brasil Telecom - have agreed to provide a dial-up Internet connection to participants for 7.50 reais, or less than $3, a month, allowing 15 hours of Web surfing.

The program aims at households and small-business owners earning three to seven times the minimum monthly wage, or about $284 to $662. The government says seven million qualify, and it hopes to reach a million of them by year-end."

Colorado Supreme Court Bars Execution Because Jurors Consulted Bible

The New York Times : "In a sharply divided ruling, Colorado's highest court on Monday upheld a lower court's decision throwing out the sentence of a man who was given the death penalty after jurors consulted the Bible in reaching a verdict. The Bible, the court said, constituted an improper outside influence and a reliance on what the court called a 'higher authority.'

'The judicial system works very hard to emphasize the rarified, solemn and sequestered nature of jury deliberations,' the majority said in a 3-to-2 decision by a panel of the Colorado Supreme Court. 'Jurors must deliberate in that atmosphere without the aid or distraction of extraneous texts.'"

"...Mr. Harlan was convicted of kidnapping a waitress, Rhonda Maloney, and raping her. She escaped and flagged down a motorist, Jaquie Creazzo. Mr. Harlan caught up with the two women, shot Ms. Creazzo, leaving her paralyzed, then beat and killed Ms. Maloney."

Monday, March 28, 2005

Biggest LBO since KKR bought RJR

A group of the nation's biggest private investment firms reached a deal yesterday to buy SunGard Data Systems for $11.3 billion, according to executives involved in the deal, making it the largest leveraged buyout since Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company bought RJR Nabisco in 1989. • Go to Article from The New York TimesGo to Article from Bloomberg NewsCredit Suisse First Boston acted as financial advisors to SunGard. In addition, Lazard also provided a fairness opinion to the board of directors of SunGard. Shearman & Sterling LLP acted as legal advisor to SunGard. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP acted as legal advisor to SunGard's management. The transaction will be financed through a combination of equity contributed by each of the consortium partners and debt financing provided by JPMorgan, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Deutsche Bank Securities, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, who also acted as financial advisors to the consortium partners. • Go to News Release from SunGard Data

"Schiavo Receives Communion, Last Rites"

My Way News: "Schiavo Receives Communion, Last Rites"
"Their hopes fading and legal options exhausted, Terri Schiavo's parents appeared quietly resigned Sunday to watching her die but could claim one Easter victory: The severely brain-damaged woman received a drop of communion wine on her tongue - her only sustenance in nine days - after her husband allowed her to receive the sacrament.
Schiavo's husband, who a day earlier denied a request from his wife's parents that she be given communion, granted permission Sunday to offer the sacrament.

The Rev. Thaddeus Malanowski said he gave Schiavo wine but could not give her a fleck of communion bread because her tongue was dry. He also administered the last rites, annointing her with holy oil and giving a blessing. Schiavo last received both sacraments on March 18, just before her feeding tube was removed."

At Michael Schiavo's home in Clearwater, about three dozen protesters dropped roses and Easter lilies on his lawn in a peaceful demonstration. His fiancee's brother picked up the flowers and handed them to a bystander to take away."

Elian Gonzalez and Terri Schiavo

OpinionJournal - John Fund : "...there are differences between the Gonzalez and Schiavo cases. But clearly many of the people who approved of dramatic federal intervention to return Elian to Cuba took a completely different tack when it came to the argument over saving Terri Schiavo. Rep. Frank makes a compelling argument that Congress took an extraordinary step when it met in special session to create a procedure whereby the federal courts could decide whether Ms. Schiavo's rights were being violated. He may have a point when he accuses Republicans of 'trying to command judicial activism and dictate outcomes when they don't like' rulings. But where were Mr. Frank and other liberals when the Clinton administration decided to sidestep a federal appeals court and order an armed raid against Elian Gonzalez? While Mr. Frank allowed that the use of assault rifles in the Elian raid was 'excessive' and 'frightening,' he also defended the Justice Department's view that 'of course [agents] had to use force.'
According to some reports, Gov. Jeb Bush considered seizing Mrs. Schiavo, a la Elian, and taking her to a hospital so she could be fed. But he did not do so. 'I've consistently said that I can't go beyond what my powers are, and I'm not going to do it,' the governor says. Janet Reno and the Clinton administration showed no such restraint when it came to Elian Gonzalez. "

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Good Friday Sermon

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, at the Good Friday service in St. Peter's Basilica:

"Theology in our day has developed a more balanced vision of the identity between the historical body of Christ born of Mary and his Eucharistic body. The tendency now is to rediscover the sacramental character of Christ's presence, which, however real and substantial, is not material... The very Jesus born of Mary, who "went about doing good to all" (Acts 10:38), who died on the cross and rose again on the third day, is really present in the world today, not merely in a vague and spiritual way, or, as some would say, in the "cause" he stood for. The Eucharist is the way Jesus invented to remain forever Emmanuel, God-with-us. This presence is a guarantee, not only for the Church, but for the entire world...

...We need to bear witness to this hope that is in us, rising up against the gloomy wind of pessimism blowing through our society. As the Pope writes in "Novo Millennio Ineunte," "We do not know what the new millennium has in store for us, but we are certain that it is safe in the hands of Christ, the 'King of kings and Lord of lords' (Revelation 19:16)" (John Paul II, "Novo Millennio Ineunte," 35)...."

The above is courtesy of Zenit. More Easter reflections later.