Ann Arbor's (MI) newspaper has had a cool feature for years. It provides a map of where criminal acts took place. It looks like a feature on Google's mapping software will make it possible for others to get into the act. This is cool on two levels. First, it is a good step towards the level of transparency government needs to provide (an essential requirement for surviving the 21st Century). Second, this would be a very cool site if a national data set could be assembled and mapped.
Frankly, the oil for food "scandal" is shabby political theater. It's pretty funny that it took a Brit, Galloway, to demonstrate how entertaining political theater can be if the participants actually had skill...
BTW, I would vote for this guy as my congressman just for the entertainment value. God knows that the federal government is utterly useless now (remind me, particularly now that social security is about to get the axe, what service/benefit does it provide me?). I should at least get some solid entertainment for my wasted tax dollar.
This is what happens when the process isn't transparent and we are forced to rely upon anonymous "insiders" and spin doctors for our info. To the administration's credit, they are really smart to use this non-event to block coverage of the slaughter in Uzbekistan (and the recent evidence of the rise of Shia paramilitary death squads in Iraq). Very well done.
Is social security a social program or pension insurance? Both the Democrats and the Republicans have long maintained that it is pension insurance, but for different reasons. The Democrats used that fiction to ensure that social security was an untouchable program, an earned right. The Republicans liked the insurance approach because it let them cap the earnings taxed in the program (which makes it highly regressive).
The current debate is an attempt to turn it into a social program. The Republicans are sure that they have the votes to prevent any major increase in the cap. The net result is a social program paid for by a highly regressive tax.
The BBC concludes that the US and the UK are still at a loss to explain what is going on in Iraq. I concur. They are operating on flawed assumptions and old models. Their pet theories shift daily. Given the hermetically sealed environments our decision makers are working in, nothing is going to change.