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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Killing Ourselves Globally - How to Avoid a Nuclear 9/11

We are killing ourselves globally. Mistakes made in our policies (going back to the closing days of "Charlie Wilson's War" in Afghanistan) are setting us up for a nuclear 9/11.

Since 9/11, our government has given the Musharraf government $10 billion dollars to fight Al Qaida, which has been using Pakistan's Northwest frontier as a base and staging area for attacks into Afghanistan - and now Pakistan with the death of Benazir Bhutto.

Our shortsighted policies aren't solving the root problem to radical Islam. The answer is in the closing minutes of "Charlie Wilson's War." Our leadership is continuing to make the same mistake.

The "War against Terror" will fail unless we solve the issue of the 30,000 Madrassa's in Pakistan that are used as schools for the next generation. They don't teach math, language, history or science. They teach hate. In Charlie Wilson's war we funded billions for weapons to shoot at Soviets, but when it was over Congress and the President had no interest in spending even $1 million for schools in Afghanistan.

So instead Osama bin Laden moved in, kicked girls out of school, killed professionals and anyone who didn't wear a beard and launched 9/11. Now, because of blunders in failing to get him at Tora Bora and getting diverted by Iraq, Osama has a bigger prize at his fingers: Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. The death of Benazir makes that possibility all too real.

With millions of recruits for Osama growing up because we are so shortsighted not to fund a "Marshall Plan for Schools" in Pakistan --real schools that teach both girls and boys about reading, writing, math, world events, science and other things.

Imagine if we had a free school system that taught only boys. And only taught one thing: reading only one book. In Pakistan's Madassa's students study the Koran (even if they can't actually read it) and nothing else. They are taught to hate everyone who is different. All they know about us is that our President supports Mr. Musharaff, whose poll ratings had him losing to Benazir Bhutto, a moderate woman Muslim leader. Osama can't stomach moderates or women in charge.

So our shortsighted policies adds up to millions of the next generation being taught hate in a country that already possesses 30 to 50 nuclear warheads -- some of which could eventually be used on a terrorist attack against Europe and the U.S.

Saddam and Iran only wanted nukes. They exist only in their dreams, but the real thing already exists in Pakistan.

The time bomb is ticking. Every day millions of young Pakistanis are being taught a "jihad of hate" against the West. Every day that we don't launch a massive effort to provide real schools to these kids, millions more of these children will be brainwashed by Bin Laden's associates to kill U.S./NATO soldiers in Afghanistan, and eventually civilians in America. The same problem even exists in places like England and France because they have isolated young Muslims who have nearly 50% unemployment - a breeding ground for future bombings like those in London's subway on 7-7.

Every day that we don't have a smart strategy to solve the root issues creating terrorism in key countries like nuclear Pakistan increases the risk to our security from a nuclear disaster for America.

If you don't believe me, go see "Charlie Wilson's War" and pay attention at the end. Then realize how that decision at the end led to Osama's rise and 9/11.

It's time that we got smart and had leadership with the expertise and a global strategy to avoid future 9/11's. If we pick another leader who continues failed policies--policies that favor funding arms over education -- we are in serious trouble.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Clueless Candidates

The U.S. Presidential race just got turned on its ear with the horrible events in Pakistan.

Folks just realized that the President is in charge of more than domestic pothole issues. And a couple of the candidates appeared clueless on something that will be on the next President's Top 10 to-do list: Pakistan.

Mr. Huckabee seemed to not know anything about Pakistan; others made remarks so general they said nothing. I was wondering if the American public would wake up and realize that the President has a GLOBAL job. We don't need someone sitting as President who has to guess about different cultures and how best to address complex international issues that impact our future. After having been in places like Pakistan, India and China, I can't imagine how someone who hasn't been there would have any idea how to deal with them without just guessing (or relying on potentially bogus advice).

That is like picking a ship captain who has been a businessman and never made a trans-oceanic cruise -- and doesn't know a rock from shallow water.

We have the same issue in local Congress races - people who may have been great Mayors or doctors who have never been out of the country and have no idea about how actions going on in places like far-away Afghanistan or Pakistan are best handled. It's a good way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as happened at the end of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

At the end of movie "Charlie Wilson' s War," the Congressman is in a committee meeting, begging for a tiny $1 million to build schools in Afghanistan. The same people who readily voted for a $1 billion in weapons to fight Russians, "didn't give a crap about some school in Pakistan" Charlie was told.

It was the lack of those schools after the Aghan/Soviet war that let people like Osama bin Laden take over Afghanistan -- and kill teachers and punish women who didn't cover themselves in burlap bags. It is that lack of foresight by leaders that makes the world more dangerous for Americans and democracies worldwide.

If we elect Congress reps who are not as worldly as Charlie Wilson was, we will have the blind leading the blind in Washington. I've heard people say that, if elected, "they would get tough on people who don't support us." They miss the point - if we pick the right leaders we can get support.

We need reps and Presidents with the global experience (and advisors with the same) to keep us from a nuclear 9/11 and find solutions to the complex global issues that bear on America's future.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated in Pakistan - The Most Dangerous Place in the World

Photo: Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto was finally assassinated in Pakistan today. I say finally because it is the third attempt on her life since her return to Pakistan to run for President. This is important because Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world. It ranks with the death of JFK. Benazir Bhutto had been the first woman leader of a Muslim country when she was 35. That era is over.

Pakistan has gone from democratic hopeful to nuclear nightmare. Either Al Qaida or even Musharraf himself was behind this horrible act. It was a suicide bomber, an Al Qaida trademark. But then the shooter first shot her in the neck with a bullet before blowing himself up. That is NOT an al Qaida trademark. It's been reported that the head wound was what killed her. For Musharraf it is a convenient way to suspend the Constitution and avoid the only opponent that could beat him in January's election. But Al Qaida has also tried to kill him as well.

I just saw "Charlie Wilson's War" yesterday, and how we dropped the ball in Afghanistan after one man helped bring down the Soviet Union. Charlie was in Islamabad about the same time I was there on business negotiations - but we never met.

What comes out in the movie is how the then Pakistan President Zia had killed his predecessor, who was Benazir Bhutto's father. (The movie doesn't say that Zia himself was later killed in an assassination when his plane was shot down).

We risk the same thing in Pakistan, the only major nuclear power with a growing nest of Islamic militants, including Osama Bin Laden who live in Pakistan's safe havens and are turning their attention from Afghanistan to Pakistan (according to Robert Gates).

Great turmoil and risk is ahead for the U.S. as much as the people of Pakistan. The killing of Ms. Bhutto in the Pakistan-equivalent of Washington DC leaves her moderate bases without a leader. They could turn to the extremists who could gain at least 30 nuclear warheads. This will happen even if Musharraf succeeds in becoming a dictator, now that democracy has died with Ms. Bhutto. It's a worst-case scenario.

Americans should pay attention to this. Start by seeing "Charlie Wilson's War" to educate yourself on that part of the world. If one of their nukes or the technology falls into the hands of Al Qaida sympathizers we are in serious trouble. A nuclear 9/11 would make the first event feel like a gnat bite in comparison.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Lessons from the front line of Charlie Wilson's War

Charlie Wilson's war is a must-see for Americans who don't remember the early 80's. It is a remarkable story about how one person (or two) can really make a difference when they want to.

It starts with the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan, and no one was doing anything about it - not even the U.S. government. Yep, the same place NATO troops are today, because when the Soviets left we did too, leaving the vacuum that Osama bin Laden filled. It is ironic that he was trained with some of Charlie's CIA money. It shows the danger of leaving a failed state in a vacuum.

At the time the real Charlie Wilson was going from hot tubs and naked women to providing the mujaheddin with $70,000 stinger missiles to shoot down million dollar Soviet gunships, I was being sent into that neck of the woods (to places like Pakistan, Dubai, etc.) to negotiate contracts for Fortune 500 companies as a young attorney. I have been to Islamabad, Karachi, Damascus, Cairo, etc. and watched the whole episode unfold.

That experience was an eye-opener of what is going on elsewhere in the world that will influence our future, for better or worse. The moral to me was that we better pay attention. The first wake-up call was the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. The second was 9/11.

9/11 came because we lost sight of the ball. After helping the Afghans regain their country when the Soviets left after Charlie's (and Joanne Herring's) war succeeded, we lost interest. The country was left broke and open for people like Osama to buy his way in to a safe haven while he plotted attacks against us. From there, the attacks against the USS Cole and the bombings of US Embassies in Africa were planned.

The moral of that story is that America cannot afford not to pay attention to these failed states. It is in our best interest to do what we can to help them succeed, with international community assistance, to foster their development and stability, so that their exports are things like coffee or machines instead of opium and terrorists. The Iraq war has diverted resources away from Afghanistan. The Taliban sanctuary in the Pakistan mountains remains secure to launch new waves of extremists into Afghanistan. Ignoring the source of trouble will not solve the problem.

Charlie's war was a success. But Afghanistan also shows that success can turn to tragedy if we do not engage on a worldwide basis. Much of the bitterness of Russia's Mr. Putin stems from the fact that when the Soviet Union collapsed, he felt we did too little to help and showed them no respect. Now they are rich and determined to kick some sand in our face. They have the nuclear power to do it.

It will take an American President with a global strategy to address these issues in 2008 and beyond. It won't take a Charlie's War from here on out, but a Charlie's peace...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Medical Miracles

I spent over 7 hours at the Texas Medical Center today, a friend was having surgery and the doctors had given her only a 50% chance of coming out of it alive. That was not good news to her 12 year old daughter and husband. Fortunately, by late this afternoon it was pronounced a success.

All of this from a traffic accident. Apparently people who had these kind of injuries before 1990 died from them. This new procedure was invented and has been saving lives since.

We are lucky to live with this 21st Century medical technology. I was impressed with the intensity at the Methodist Hospital and the long time the doctors took explaining what was happening to the family waiting. It takes a village to sometimes figure out what is going on in these cases.

I tested the Blackberry World phone, by not charging it all day while spending a ton of time in a waiting room working the internet, etc. on it. The Treo would have run out of juice in a couple of hours. The Blackberry World edition went all day and still had 2/3's charge after a heavy day of use.

I found the address book had a lot of duplicates, so I deleted them. When i got home I plugged it into the computer and it automatically synced up and transfered the data to the laptop, and some stuff from the laptop to the PDA, in less than a minute. Very impressive tool. It was even easy to do google and people searches for address checks, etc.

For a birthday, it was a good day, even though i was too tired when I got home from a day of people watching at the hospital to bother eating dinner. lol.

We are lucky indeed to live in these technology times and witness medical miracles having every day in places like the Texas Medical Center.

After all, if you don't have your life, the Blackberry's, Starbucks and other toys we enjoy won't mean a lot, will they?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hold the (World) Phone

A fierce north wind blew in and tilted Clear Lake, exposing old pilings from a long-gone pier extending out into the lake that had been hidden inches under the surface, waiting to rip out the bottom of an unsuspecting boater. Pelicans have taken advantage of the temporary sitting posts. Other parts of the lake are now mud flats.

Yesterday I met the anniversary date and switched phones on my plan, going from a Treo to a Blackberry World phone. There is no comparison.

The Treo had stopped accessing the internet and was hard to sync. The Blackberry 8830 synced over 1,100 entries right away, and in a few seconds. The Treo is as heavy as a brick; the Blackberry World Edition is light as a feather, and slim. It even dials number by voice, a major safety improvement over trying to "dial and drive."

The baseball scandal over steroid use by something like 80 sports players can't go without comment.

We seem to have a double standard even on illegal use of drugs. Marion Jones loses her Olympic medal for "juicing" while baseball players sign multiple million dollar contracts. This sets a horrible example for millions of kids. Their conduct encourages hundreds of thousands of young boys to think that bulking up on drugs is the way to win, even if it kills them. It says "cheating to win" is OK, and very profitable!

While baseball players and radio jocks walk free despite abusing drugs, hundreds of thousands are locked up for possession or use of other illegal drugs.

That does not sound like American justice or American values. We should treat all drug users the same -- or change the laws so that is the result. Why should a kid caught with pot go to jail while the kid "juicing" on steroids gets a multi-million dollar sports contract?

Anything less diminishes our unique American values of equality, justice and truth. Steroid or Oxycontin (sp?) use is more dangerous than Marijuana, so this does not make sense.

The good news is that there was a last minute deal in Bali, Indonesia to begin addressing global warming on a worldwide scale -- no leaving out developing countries like India and China.

I couldn't believe the U.S. delegates attending initially refused to offer to help with clean technology - they deserved to be booed for that idiot position. It's like the spoiled rich kid refusing to chip in for the poker hand, while expecting everyone else to donate. Out of 200 countries, ours was not willing to set a real timetable to address this issue. It reminds me of the story of the mother watching a parade and says: "They are all out of step except for my son!"

To their credit, the American delegation changed their mind and made the offer to help with "clean technology" and some money, etc.

Scientists say that we have at most 10 years to make the changes we need to avoid catastrophic climate degradation that will negatively impact or child and grand children's -- and future generations -- future.

That should have been a "no-brainer." Instead we have leadership with no brains.

Americans ask me "why people hate us." World polls show our image is now in the dirt. If attitudes toward Americans have gone down, it is because of this type of strange behavior coming from DC.

Being the only country on the entire planet that has opposed taking any action to avoid a global environmental disaster that affects all of us would provide a reason for them to feel that way.

The fact that we consist of only 5% of the world's population and yet burn 33% of the energy makes us look wasteful and arrogant, as Mr. Huckabee recently stated.

Bali marks a first step in a long journey. The Chinese have a saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It's time to use our world phones to continue that journey towards a greater American future and a better image.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Politicians v. Leaders

What is the difference between politicians and leaders?

A politician tells people what they want to hear.

A leader tells people what they need to hear.

There are a couple examples of this in the current Presidential campaign. What we need in 2008 is a leader.

We need someone willing to tell Americans that we need to clean up our fiscal mess.

We need someone willing to address serious environmental issues that are critical to our future survival as the human race. Remember this simple truth (and reality) --If we screw up the planet's environment, we have no suburb to move to.

We need someone willing to talk to our neighbors around the globe to find common ground and solutions for jobs, global migration trends, terrorism, trade, ad in infinitum. A one way conversation doesn't work.

That is what people should be looking for in 2008.

But I wonder how many Americans will look for a politician instead --candidates telling people sweet nothings people want to hear, like how you can borrow forever and never pay the price, or spend trillions on wars without paying for them.

If we keep electing politicians instead of leaders, America's future is in serious jeopardy. Think about it as the candidates whisper their siren songs...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Al Qaida's Global Car Bomb Day

Photo: Lebanon - One target of Al Qaida's global car bomb day

Yesterday car bombs set by Al Qaida went off in Baghdad, Algiers (Algeria), and Lebanon. The 11th (including 9-11) is a popular day for Al Qaida to set off its killing sprees. So it had a day of global car bombings.

But that kind of killing has turned against Al Qaida in Iraq. Even the minority Iraqi Sunnis, who a short time ago were shooting Americans, have turned against Al Qaida and its indiscriminate killings. In Indonesia, Al Qaida followers were caught after beheading a couple young schoolgirls. That type of idiot behavior even disgusted the Sunni militas, who are now working with American soldiers. Iraqi Muslims have been as offended by Al Qaida's treatment of women as Americans.

The change in Iraq has come only after the military did something that I suggested years ago at the beginning -- get the tropps to mingle with the people and set up units that work with people instead of being holed up in isolated compounds as they were at the beginning.

The British had used this model in the south and it worked. it only took 4 years for Washington to figure it out.

Al Qaida is still a global force that has not been eliminated. Europe continues to isolate its Muslim community (unlike America), with a 50% unemployment rate among frustrated young men, a recipe for more car bombs in the future until things change. So while Americans may be obsessing over a possible recession, we face even greater threats than a housing bust and stock market meltdown.

And that means we need to upgrade not just our storm protection, but also protection in our homes and offices from future car bombs. That has become my focus with Armor Glass International.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dual Processors in the Fog

It's been extremely foggy on the Texas coast the past few days. Even the birds are flying on radar. Often the lake, less than 50 feet away, is invisible. On nights like this it makes working inside preferable.

I've got one computer busy processing website video updates. Another is making disk copies (it also serves as a news monitor while I'm working on the other). I loaded some video of XO Armor, our product, stopping 2x4's shot by a machine that looks like a cannon and bullets.

The new laptop has "dual processors" and supposedly can do more work at the same time. If Vista weren't so huge it probably would. It does seem to take multiple computers to do everything we need to do these days. I kept "freezing up" the old one because i had too many applications open at the same time (writing, editing video, website stuff, etc.). So now my work is split between two machines and it's much better.

The video is at the Armor Glass website. It is amazing who contacts me with a problem that only our product can solve. This week it was a museum in Philadelphia that is moving into a building with glass doors. Even a kid knows that glass provides zero protection for vandals, thieves, storms, etc. in a building housing the artifacts of one of America's most historic cities.

Armor Glass International has the solution to protect people from hurricanes, bomb blasts and petty thieves, fog or not fog...and it doesn't take two computers to figure that out.

P.S.: The collapse of the housing market in the U.S. is not an isolated event.

There has been a similar housing meltdown going on in Europe, etc. I've heard some analysts who fear it could spark a global recession. I think some smart leadership would avoid it getting that bad (and if they aren't too smart, we pay the price, which won't be much fun).

Friday, December 07, 2007

2008 Hurricanes: Predicting 7. Question of Intensity

This new report predicts that next year, 2008, we will have a higher than average change of at least 7 hurricanes, with 3 big ones.

In 2005 we saw Wilma reach a record low pressure. The warmer water from global warming could mean that the hurricanes and storms we get are more intense, like Wilma. That means we will need more protection and stronger building codes, as Mayor Bill White has suggested.

It doesn't impact just us who are within 100 miles of the U.S. coast, Mexico and Central America. Japan, Taiwan and China's east coast get hit hit by Typhoons, Asia's hurricanes, with equally devastating results.

We need to prepare now. Six months from now the next hurricane season begins and it takes time to install protective window film or whatever else you need to do to prepare. That's why I set up Armor Glass International, to provide security products that benefit people.

The window film I'm talking about has passed the Miami Dade Large Missile test would have a second benefit - it would protect people in glass structures from car bombs. We haven't had one yet but we have had truck bombs, such as Tim McVeigh in Oklahoma City. London has had them and our technology would help them too.

If put on in layers it can stop bullets --perhaps to protect employees from mad idiots like that kid in Omaha or security officers in hospitals surrounded by glass walls.

Buildings near refineries worldwide need it to protect employees and the surrounding neighborhood from glass shrapnel if an explosion blows out the windows.

I spent 9-11 on TV as a terrorism expert, but just talking about potential threats made me feel incomplete. I finally found a technology, a new nano-technology,that actually protects people in their homes and offices. The weakest link in every building is the glass. I found something I could actually do to make it safer for people, their kids, pets, etc. in the next storm or human disaster. It even stops burglars from "smash and grab."

I'm not into just talk. I prefer to take action, finding a solution. Few places in America or elsewhere have this protection, so there's a lot of "walking" to do. Check out the second linked site and email me with any questions.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Viking Tequila

I went to a Norwegian American chamber lunch yesterday - the traditional drink is "Glogg" which also describes how you feel after having only one drink. When it started in the 90's they had maybe 15 or 20 people. This time it was over 300 and they had to have it at the Houston Country Club.

Most of them were oil companies. It shows how international the business has become. In the early days, the North Sea technology was used in the Gulf of Mexico. Now some of the Gulf of Mexico technology is used in the North Sea.

After the meal they serve "Aquavit." A Norwegian from Oslo described it as "Viking Tequila." I think they should rename it "Jet A."

Speaking of Tequila, there is a weird trend of drug smugglers in Mexico killing musicians whose songs offend them. In the past 2 years over a dozen have been shot execution styple They are also killing a lot of each other, policemen, reporters, etc.

The "War on Terror" should include the narco-terrorists operating on both sides of our border.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Spy in the Sky, Drones and Iran


Big spy news.

It turns out that the global spies dramatically changed the story on IRAN - that there are "No active weapons testing program in Iran since 2003."

So it seemed very surreal yesterday to see the President coming out and acting as if it were "WMD's-in-Iraq" all over again. Why hype the potential of World War III after this new report was made available to the administration stating the opinion of 16 U.S. agencies views that there was NOT a big weapons program going on. It dramatically reversed earlier intelligence reports. Are we on the same planet? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me...

Then it turns out that Houston police have been secretly testing a flying drone over the skies of Houston. Apparently it is someone's idea of replacing helicopters flown by HPD officer-pilots to using the same type of drones flying over Afghanistan looking for Osama bin Laden. The operators don't even need to be pilots! They just sit in front of a monitor with a joystick. I wonder if they plan to attach a hellfire missile to it? Take out any speeders with the push of a button! LOL.

Private pilots are concerned about it because of the potential of a collision with the huge variety of small planes using the same airspace.

I am a pilot and share that concern. I also have reservations about the privacy issue. Exactly WHAT are these drones looking for?

What happens if a drone hits a plane and brings it down? They have cameras on board. Will a drone operator be tempted to photograph a nude sunbather in her backyard? Will it do anything in the skies over Houston that a real officer can't do in a helicopter?

It sounds like "1984" ... Fortunately Mayor White has put the plan under review. President Bush should do the same on Iran.
Our troops are tired and maxed out in Iraq and Afghanistan, facing repeated, long tours. Starting another unneeded conflict when there is no imminent threat makes no sense. It would overwhelm the American taxpayer who is already facing a $2 trillion bill on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iran, and the rest of the global issues facing America, is a problem for the next President, whoever that is.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Democracy Wins in Venezuela/Hong Kong; Loses in Russia and Nuclear Pakistan

Mr. Big Mouth Hugo Chavez, who wanted to be "President" for the next 50 years, was given a big NO by the people of Venezuela. Strike a blow for freedom. No "President for Life" for Hugo. LOL.

Ten percent of our oil comes from Venezuela. It's OK to buy gas at citgo again! (Citgo is always cheaper than the other gas stations in my neighborhood).

But the situation continues to deteriorate in Russia and especially Pakistan, which has a nuclear arsenal and is more important to future security than Iraq or Iran in many ways. One of two Presidential candidates, Mr. Sharif, was ruled "ineligible" to run. He has to appeal to judges who were put in place by Mr. Musharraf after firing the former judges, all moderate believers in the rule of law instead of the rule of dictators.

That is the same as Al Gore being declared ineligible to run against George Bush in 2004 - it makes it easier to stay in power if your competition can't get on the ballot.

Ms. Bhutto, the only challenger to the General-in-a-suit, Mr. Musharraff, has been put under house arrest.

Meanwhile, Mr. Putin won over 70% of the vote. Why? Simple. Russia used to be broke, and was when he took office 9 years ago. Now Russia is RICH. Mainly due to oil. People now have jobs and ordinary Russians are beginning to have a future and some have even started to SMILE on the streets. No more dour, sour Russians linking up in front of empty store shelves.

The vote for Putin is a yes vote for better economic opportunities, but it comes at a hugh cost to democracy.

however, one bright spot is that for the first time Hong Kong has elected a legislator who was NOT a China puppet. It means that democracy may be taking root on the edge of China, which has amassed billions in foreign exchange reserves and is funding our deficits while challenging us for future space ventures.

But hey, not everyone's mind is on "global affairs" between states. Some folks want something more personal, like this story on older white women seeking young lovers on vacation in places like Kenya.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

P.S. Global Biz -

P.S. Must add this to today's post. In the past few days I've received two inquiries from two different parts of the country from different people, asking for videos on doing business in places like Vietnam and India.

What's really odd is that when I tell them that the videos are over 10 years old they STILL want them! One guy said in his message that they can't find videos like mine anywhere else. Ummm.

Checked last night. Before i ran out of funds I had made videos on doing business in Russia, India, China, East Europe, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and oh yes, Mexico. They have clients going global, desperate for information apparently. So I'm dusting them and making copies...

Musharraf Reminds me of Tom DeLay

Ms. Bhutto - She even looks better than Musharraf

If you want to see how democracy dies when a leader can fire the Supreme Court, read this article on what is going on in Pakistan under Musharraf - judges being barred from going to court unless they pledge "loyalty" to the "President" even when its to give him a Constitutionally-barred third term.

Reading it reminded me of Tom DeLay - and his war on our courts and judges. Fortunately under our system he did not have the power to fire any judges, or the same thing would have happened. That is what makes our system so great - petty politicians have a tough time making it entirely one-sided.

It is in the U.S. interest that Musharraf lose his election to someone like Ms. Bhutto - not that we should interfere with the voter choice, but we should make sure the process is as open as possible. Without it, democracy dies and extremism will be the result. Our President should insist on "No rigged elections" if he is to represent the true values of this democracy.

So what if Bhutto is elected instead of Musharraf? She's a moderate. I can't believe our national reporters go to Pakistan, like the one I saw on Channel 8, and come back with the idea that Musharraf is the only choice. It shows how little our media know about the place, and the consequences of what is going on.

If Tom DeLay was still in power -- with his animosity towards our own judges -- I wonder if he'd be applauding Musharraf's firing of the Pakistan Supreme Court judges (not to mention throwing lawyers in jail for protesting the abuse of the justice system)?

If he did, it would show our leadership is going down the wrong trail. If not, then why hasn't he publicly made a strong statement deploring Musharraf's abuse of Pakistan's judges and democratic system? Why hasn't our leadership done the same?

I wonder how those running to take DeLay's seat in CD22 (now held by Nick Lampson) feel on this vital issue involving our national security? Is it OK to game the system to stay in power? What would YOU do about nuclear Pakistan's slide towards dictatorship?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Need Prez Debate on Global Issues that Affect Americans

In Sudan, a school teacher was facing 40 lashes for naming a Teddy Bear “Mohammed.” She got a 15 day prison sentence and deportation instead. Weird.

In Venezuela students are protesting Chavez – over 100,000 in the streets today. Hugo is trying to make himself “President for life” and the students are fighting it. For the first time, the “no’s” may defeat him. Standby for Sunday’s vote.

And former chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov just got let out of prison in Russia– another Putin punishment. Kasporov has been leading the opposition to Putin and jail was part of the result. Some have been poisoned with elements produced only by nuclear power plants. China just rejected a U.S. ship from entering Hong Kong during a storm – something that just isn’t done.

And “He’s BAACK!” Osama bin laden just released another audio tape telling folks to “hands off” Afghanistan (his homeland) and that only he is responsible for 9-11.

Then they pick up some guys in East Europe (Slovakia) trying to sell uranium, enough to make a dirty bomb.

In the midst of these events, I hear Presidential candidates debating issues that seem pretty small if you paid attention to what is really going on in the world (like who employed a company that had an illegal worker).

HELLO folks, pay attention. You are running to be our leader. It’s a global job – not just some local issue pot-hole post. I hope some of this stuff is on your radar. Because its going to bite us on the butt if we don’t address it.

Democracy is under attack globally and we are arguing over who gets to sit on the deck chairs as the Titanic is going down in places like Russia, a massive nuclear power, and Venezuela, one of the biggest oil producers in this part of the planet. The Middle East is but one component of a complex global situation facing the next American President and his/her staff.

We can’t afford leadership in the next 4 to 8 years who are clueless about these other significant, worldwide events that they will be in charge of. But we have yet to hear them address on the campaign trail…

We need a debate focused solely on international issues – not just Iraq but everything from being the only country not working on Kyoto CO2 reduction to how to handle the emerging 21st Century giants China and Russia, as well as the rogues trying to make dirty bombs.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Strange Lighting, Good Questions on GOP YouTube Debate

Last night I watched the Republican YouTube debate – strange lighting, clever songs and all. But even if someone forgets to have enough light to show their entire face, it is the question that was the important thing. Just don't hire some of these producers to make your next film.

I thought the youTube questions were extremely thoughtful, intelligent and pointed -- just the types of questions candidates need to answer – and probably wouldn't be asked in a "normal" debate format. Nothing like making candidates squirm onstage.

It does appear that Republicans and Democrats inhabit two different planets at the same time. One is obsessed with Iraq; the other with illegal immigrants.

Both seem to be incapable of figuring out a centrist approach instead of "withdraw immediately" or "all illegal's are bad" -- even the Mexican guy who saved an American kids life when his (American) mother died in an accident in a remote part of the desert and the alien chose to protect the kid and build a fire even if it got him deported (it did). Come on guys.

Last night I was convinced that illegal immigrants were the end of our existence when not a single person in that room had lost a job to one. I doubt any would sign up for a stint in a meatpacking plant or whatever nasty job these folks take and Americans avoid as if it were Typhoid.

We have farms that can't get laborers in to pick the lettuce we all like to eat. Tancredo said last night: "Tough, let them go out of business" to a farmers question about getting work visas to get their crops in. He said: "if they can't find an American to take those dirty jobs, then its too bad. "

No American is going to pick lettuce I can tell you that. Do you know anyone who wants that job? Or wants to lug 200 lb meat slabs and kill cows in a meatpacking plant? I haven't met a single Republican who has lost a job to an illegal immigrant.

On the other side of the spectrum we have over 500,000 high tech jobs that can't be filled by Americans – and no law to allow skilled people from elsewhere to take them. So our economy suffers on both ends. How does that help us? This doesn't even make sense.

The other thing I noticed is that no Presidential candidate seemed to have a global strategy – something I didn't detect among the Democrats either. Come on guys - jobs, immigration, etc --all these have international causes and effects. When Mexico's east coast was hit by high water like Katrina, thousands lost homes and jobs. Did we help? No. So guess what - they will come north looking for work because there is none there. If we helped them, it would cut the numbers of people looking north for their future survival --walls with machine guns or not. It's as simple as that.

It is smart to have a global strategy to deal with it, and foolish not to. (a wall is not a strategy; getting jobs in Mexico to keep people there is).

There was a lot of backbiting between the candidates – same on the Democrat side.

I'm ready for a positive, centrist candidate who doesn't pander to either fringe (left or right), who has a global strategy to return America to its premier position as a world leader and builder of peaceful relations among nations. That's the only thing that will truly give us national security.

Who is that person? No one so far has been that extraordinary…on either side.

Oh yes, I did pose a couple questions to the candidates. Here's a link t0 one that applies to both Democrats and Republicans...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shifting Winds - Globally and Locally. DeLay v. Lampson style

The winds of change have been blowing. After 7 years of avoiding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the President is embracing it . The stagnation of the peace process has fueled the extremist elements, so it is a step in the right direction even if it's late in the day.

And change was evident when I attended my first town meeting last night in Nassau Bay hosted by new Congressman Nick Lampson in CD22 -- Tom DeLay's former district.

What a change that was.

My last town meeting when DeLay was in office was in Rosenberg (Ft. Bend) in 2004 in an auditorium of 1,000 teachers, upset over the cutting of their benefits. Mr. DeLay started the meeting by saying "I am right and you are wrong." It went downhill from there. He engaged as if it were a fight with voters sitting there.

In contrast, Mr. Lampson told the group last night: "You are the boss; you have solutions to these problems. I am here because I want to hear them."

And he did listen. And he bought the FBI to talk about mortgage fraud and a realtor to talk about the present situation in our area (a mix).

I heard very interesting, good ideas from people (and some good intentions even when they missed the mark).

From Mr. Lampson I found out that NASA is in a tough situation -- it is being underfunded $3 billion from what it is ordered to do and what it has been budgeted by the administration. We spend that in a week in Iraq. It means that science or hardware development will suffer along with our future technology leadership at a time that China, Korea, Japan and others are shooting for the moon. Rep. Lampson is trying to get them the $3 billion.

Pakistan's Musharraff has stepped out of his military uniform, to rule as a civilian. It's nukes are now under the control of a new military man. Russia now has more billionaires than any other country and Mr. Putin is the new iron man of the one country with nuclear power equal to our own.

It's clear that our representatives in Congress and the next President will need the experience and advisers necessary to deal with all of these issues, as well as jobs, immigration, terrorism--all with causes and effects that are global. More on that soon...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Global Issues for the next Prez

If you watch the news with half a brain still working it has to dawn on you.

The next President better have a GLOBAL strategy or we are in trouble. Putin is rolling back democracy in Russia, which is now rich and has more billionaires than any other country. Chavez is trying the same in Venezuela. Pakistan's democracy is in trouble and little effort has been made on peace efforts.

So a lot of fires remain burning for the next President to deal with. Whoever it is better have a "game plan" from day 1.

Do any of them have one? I wonder.

That should be the question asked of all of them. Who cares what their domestic plan is. What is their international plan to keep America a player as the world changes?

It's too late to do much more about any of this in the remainder of this administration's term. No one is putting a lot of stock in the Israeli-Palestinian talks starting tomorrow.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, the big issues --from Iran to Russia -- will fall full force on the next President - who will have only 4 to 8 years to turn things around.

We are heavily in debt and although violence is down in Iraq there is no political settlement to provide a foundation for long term peace. Heads need to be knocked together over there. If this President doesn't do it, the next one will have to....

Our future security depends upon it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Computers, China and the Moon

The last four days I have been trying to convert all my data for use on a new laptop running Vista. It is amazing how long it takes to get software loaded and set up data files, etc. Some XP programs won't work on Vista (like Winfax) so one has to find something new.

Four days later it still not done, but getting closer. Just getting a couple computers to see each other on a network has been a challenge. Mama, don't let your children grow up to be cowboys; they better be computer geeks to survive in the 21st century....

The cold rain has stopped for awhile.

I see that Hillary is the only Democrat candidate that mentions SPACE as a priority or even mentions it. What's up with that? I am not sure if any GOP candidate mentions it.

NASA's Houston HQ is 5 minutes away from here. Space technology is our future. I can't believe it doesn't rank higher with more candidates. China will beat us to the moon if we don't get moving.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Time to Kick Some Diplomatic Butt

It's pouring a cold rain over the lake, with the temp dipping to 52 degrees, according to the gadget I put on the balcony. It's a blustery NE wind.

Thanksgiving was a riot at one house of a friend of mine (I wasn't there). After being told not to, the 14-year old niece (Ali) went around and let every bird out of its cage, causing great consternation among the adults. It was chaos before dinner.

That kind of describes the situation the U.S. is in as the President closes in on his last year to have an impact. That could happen Tuesday.

Tuesday is when the Middle East peace conference kicks off in Annapolis, the first time in 7 years that a real effort can be made to do something other than send troops and bullets to the Middle East. Political solutions can do what armies cannot. But it is hard work.

This is one of the last chances for the President to kick some diplomatic butt to bring about a more stable Middle East. It's not off to a good start, with the Saudi official declaring he would not shake hands with the Israelis.

I think its time everyone had to shake hands with everyone else to start -- Saudis and Israelis, Bush shaking Ahmedinjad's hand, everyone required to have dinner together, etc.

If I were there, I'd make everyone talk about their family and their kids, something everyone has in common.

Then i wouldn't let anyone out of the room to take a pee until they all agreed to treat each other with respect, open trade and stop shooting.

I figure a "first ever" deal could be done in a few HOURS, not centuries, under those conditions (serving lots of tea). LOL.

It's going to take serious diplomacy to get the U.S. back where it belongs - global peacemaker. That will be our best security protection in this nuclear age...

Monday, November 19, 2007

FOGGED In

I was driving south on Space Center Blvd and drove right into a cloud of fog at Bay Area Blvd that apparently extends out to sea, a "sea fog" according to my TV weather guru. For the first time, it is impossible to see the lake which is less than 100 feet away.

It is like being in a cloud of white mist in which nothing is visible much beyond your nose.

I was thrilled I had scored a deal on a TomTom a few days ago -- so I could see the curves coming in the road on its screen -- even in the fog or at night. It points out ATM's and gas stations, etc. What a cool device. And I got one for only $150. I even found a restaurant using it to guide me to a meeting, knowing which exit to take instead of guessing and wasting time in Houston's gridlock.

I see that Mr. Negroponte went to Pakistan but was silent about Musharraf reinstating the Pakistan Supreme Court. Why? Why aren't we supporting the lawyers and justices that a democracy needs? Very strange...

Like the fog, sometimes I think people fail to see what is in front of them. If I were President the United States would be insisting on Musharraf treating each branch with respect, including the Supreme Court. We made this same mistake with the Shah of Iran, and were "surprised" when he went down to Khomeini.

I see the same mistake being made again with Musharraf.

We need a Pakistan policy that advance moderates, who are the majority there (not radicals). Instead, we have a "bet on one man" policy that plays into the hands of the fringe and does nothing to build a democratic future. Without it, we are at nuclear risk. Pakistan is far more dangerous than Iran will ever be.

But, like the fog, people sometimes don't see things until it is too late...we can't afford that mistake in the nuclear age.

And unfortunately a TomTom can't guide us on this uncharted territory...

Friday, November 16, 2007

More Chinese Studying English Than Americans

I recently got to hear Houston's superstar trendspotter, Dr. Stephen Klineberg, who gave a summary of demographic trends in America.

One thing he said that was fascinating is that there are more Chinese in China studying English than there are Americans studying English in the U.S. He said that Latinos are studying English faster than European immigrants did, "including his Yiddish Grandmother who never learned English."

He is pretty funny. And on target. Check out a couple clips of Dr. Klineberg's comments on immigration at a talk he gave to the League of Women Voters last week...If it doesn't work on this blog it may still be on the League of Women Voters website at www.LWVhouston.org

Yesterday, I went to Trent Internationale School in Sugar Land and saw the future of America. They are part of the face of the new America that Dr. Klineberg also talked about. I'll post some photos as soon as I get them. These kids are being taught the skills they will need for success in a global, high-tech, space-race 21st Century.

China's goal is to beat us back to the Moon. They might do it unless the President gives NASA the funding it needs. And it will be the kids coming from places like Trent Internationale that help keep America leading the world for generations yet to come.
video

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

View from a Clear Lake


Photo1: Sunrise over Clear Lake
Photo2: Pelican Sundown over Clear Lake (TX)

I used to live where I would only see sunsets. Now I live in a place which faces east and I see only sunrises from my balcony. I've seen a million sunsets but until recently hardly a sunrise.

Now I see a sunrise nearly every day. Sunrise over a lake is always different each day. Yesterday it was foggy. Today the sun came up orange over smooth waters. Some days it is a red ball. Other days it is bright yellow or white rays, shooting over the lake like a diamond.

I grew up on a farm and moved to the city, so I've never lived on water. I'm discovering that I am a "water person." In a high stress job(s) like I have, or when the news headlines drive you nuts, it is a natural calming agent while sitting on the balcony.

Every morning and evening is also an air show. The birds are always performing even when "Wings Over Houston" and its WWII planes are not in town.

Last night I had to stop and watch the Pelicans circling over the boat launch at Clear Lake Park as the sun was going down. Ummm. Come to think of it, I love sunsets on the water also.

What's that great song fro Fiddler on the Roof? Sunrise, Sunset....

It is sunrise for a new group of players coming in 2008, and sunset for others...Take your pick of which you prefer.

View from a Clear Lake



Photo1: Sunrise over Clear Lake
Photo2: Pelican Sundown over Clear Lake (TX)

I used to live where I would only see sunsets. Now I live in a place which faces east and I see only sunrises from my balcony. I've seen a million sunsets but until recently hardly a sunrise.

Sunrise over a lake is always different. Yesterday it was foggy. Today the sun came up orange over smooth waters. Some days it is a red ball. Other days it is bright yellow or white rays, shooting over the lake like a diamond.

I grew up on a farm and moved to the city, so I've never lived on water. I'm discovering that I am a "water person." In a high stress job(s) like I have, or when the news headlines drive you nuts, it is a natural calming agent while sitting on the balcony.

Every morning and evening is also an air show. The birds are always performing even when "Wings Over Houston" and its WWII planes are not in town.

Last night I had to stop and watch the Pelicans circling over the boat launch at Clear Lake Park as the sun was going down. Ummm. Come to think of it, I love sundowns on the water also.

What's that great song fro Fiddler on the Roof? Sunrise, Sunset....

It is sunrise for a new group of players coming in 2008, and sunset for others...Take your pick of which you prefer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ex-Pilots Want New UFO Probe

Ex-Pilots Want New UFO Probe

A lot of ex-military and commercial pilots believe they have seen unexplainable flying objects that seem to be beyond current human technology. Some of these ex-pilots are calling for a new UFO probe by our government -- for security reasons.

"Especially after the attacks of 9/11, it is no longer satisfactory to ignore radar returns ... which cannot be associated with performances of existing aircraft and helicopters," they said in a statement released at a news conference.

I am a pilot, have flown over 55 countries, including Mach 2 in the Concorde, but have never seen a UFO. Presidential candidate Kucinich claims that he has seen a UFO.


If you think about it, it makes sense. Our leadership was blind-sided by 9-11 because they never thought that anyone would attack the U.S. -- despite the fact that Osama bin Laden had blown a hole in the USS Cole, US Embassies in Africa had been bombed, etc. etc.

We were blindsided because we refused to look. What if the next time we are blindsided it is because of a UFO?

We have all heard reports about Roswell and the UFO crash in 1947. I have seen footage of astronauts on early missions seeing UFO's -- that's when the video cameras on flights were suspended. I have seen video footage from an early NASA flight which shows what appears to be one object shooting at another in space -- and missing as the UFO sped off into space. Experts called it "ice" but since when does ice do a u-turn and take off to avoid being zapped by a light beam?

While our greatest security threat right now is Pakistan's nuclear inventory and political crisis, the next one could be related to other threats we need to know about.

At least doing a study on unexplained objects flying in our territory or elsewhere would open our eyes. If there are UFO's putting our heads in the sand is not a solution. If there are alien technologies that pose a threat to us, we need to know about it.

One constant that I've learned from life is that change is inevitable, and that technology changes everything. It is better to be prepared for that change than to be caught flat-footed by it. 9-11 was a good lesson. Let's not forget it -- and open a new study by our military and NASA on this issue.

Final thought: The Bush administration is protesting NASA getting an extra $1 billion to develop our next generation shuttles -- the same amount it spends every 3 days in Iraq! This makes no sense. Spend the $1 billion on NASA. If the study shows we have a UFO issue, we'll need as much space technology as we can get....

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thanks Vets

It was a holiday for courts in Sherman, TX today but not Houston, but we all should thank a vet today.

I had a court appearance, which involved a phone call to Sherman, TX where their court was closed for Veteran's Day while our court was open. The first time we called one of the parties needed to consent, he was not convinced it was the judge -- and he was having a Whataburger. The second time we called him, he told the court that he had pulled off the road. The judge asked him to raise his hand to swear him in as a witness. Several minutes later when questions stopped, he asked the judge: "Can I put my hand down now?"

I can imagine what motorists must have thought, seeing a guy parked on the side of the road with his right hand in the air, talking on the phone. LOL.

Thanks to vets, we have the freedom to do just that...Now we need to see that folks in places like Pakistan have the same court system and rule of law (vs. Men) that they are fighting for and we take for granted...

Nigeria could become a target for militant Islamists?


Will Nigeria become one of the next targets for militant Islamists? Nigeria is oil rich and is divided between the Muslim north and Christian south. Some arrests have been made.

Nigeria is a trouble spot because it is already well known in the oil business for kidnapping oil workers and taking over platforms -- who are then released alive after some kind of payment is made, and then the whole game cycle is repeated. The immense poverty in the oil lands is the root cause. If Islamists take over people might start losing their heads.

If we don't see that these issues get addressed, eventually there will be more extremism. People see great wealth around them, yet Nigeria's corrupt system keeps it in the hands of a few at the top. So people get desperate and break into oil lines to get fuel.

Right now, the biggest threat to our security is Pakistan, which has nuclear missiles and an unstable situation. Our own government is supporting a military man over the country's legal system and lawyers.

I call on American lawyers, and all Americans interested in our security, to get involved to help the Pakistani attorneys who are the true freedom fighters here -- fighting for a justice system and democracy that will keep the country from going to the extreme.

We have to do the same in Nigeria, which has no nukes, for the same reason.

Our leadership has done neither.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Texas Hide Inspector office - Making a Big Differene in the World

Photo: Pakistani soldiers - No exposure to U.S. Bodes Trouble with Nukes

You'll be sad to know that Texas has voted to abolish the office of "Inspector of Hides and Animals" - a nonpaying office in places like Ft. Bend which allowed the officeholder to ride in the annual parade, and that's about it.

Well, that's another lost job, but it didn't go to China. No longer will we see pitched battles in future primaries for the job. I recall one year when three people ran the be the "Hide Inspector." I should have picked it instead of a run for Congress.

Speaking of which, I see that we cut off contact with Pakistan's military for a decade in 1990 -- now there is a group of senior military officers that were not exposed to the U.S. or European cultures, and are more sympathetic to the "jihadists." These guys will eventually control Pakistan's 30 plus nuclear warheads. They grew up in an insular Pakistan -- as isolated from the world as someone who never left Crawford, Texas before taking office.

That is why supporting moderates like Ms. Bhutto and elections is in our best interests. By supporting Musharraf we are setting up the same thing that happened to the Shah of Iran when Khomeini knocked him out -- but unlike Iran this country already has nukes.

We need to get smart fast. Getting rid of our Inspectors of Hides and Animals won't make much of a difference in the world. It misses the point when you consider what is happening in the world that impacts our/your future in the nuclear age. We should be having those Pakistani officers visit the U.S. -- and get to know us -- ASAP.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Talk vs Action - Failure to Use Our Leverage in Pakistan

Ms. Bhutto, who was elected when Pakistan previously had a democracy, said it best when she asked the American President:

"Do More than Mere Rhetoric." That describes in a nutshell the President's failure to stand up for democracy in Pakistan.

This is unfortunate since we have the leverage button if only we (i.e. the President) would push it.

The bizarre notion that suspending aid will hurt the "War on Terror" makes no sense when Musharraf has pockected over $8 billion and his troops run out of ammo in shootouts with Al Qaida, forcing Pakistani soldiers to be taken prisoner by a few renegades up against an army. If $8 billion doesn't buy the Pakistani troops ammo for a shootout, or support when they are trapped, where did the money go -- into the dictator's pocket?

Our $8 billion certainly didn't keep Musharraf from cutting a peace deal with the Al Qaida on the Northwest frontier where bin Laden's group hides out. It didn't buy the backup the Pakistani troops should have had, like an airdrop of ammo, instead of being abandoned defenseless in an outpost.

The failure to fight for democracy in nuclear Pakistan, by President Bush avoiding making even a serious threat of cutting additional military aid to Pakistan until elections are restored, makes us look two-faced and weak. Is that our policy --we are for democracy worldwide except when we favor a dictator who takes $8 billion of our taxpayer money and wages a phony war against Al Qaida with whom he cuts a peace deal -- what kind of U.S. policy is that?

Not smart. And not in our security interest either.

What does make sense is using the aid cutoff to restore elections. Then when Ms. Bhutto, if elected in January (and who has been an Al Qaida assassination target), would wage a more aggressive war against Al Qaida --AND restore moderate democracy in nuclear Pakistan?

The President needs to use his famous tough talk where it will actually do some good - in Pakistan. Or risk looking like a hypocrite...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Why Do They Hate Us?

This subject came up during a recent GOP debate. The question was basically: "Why Do They Hate Us?" referring to the common held belief by Americans that people around the world don't like us. Here is an excerpt from an article:

"
Right now 65,000 Mexicans in Tabasco – less than 2 hours flying time from Houston – have been on rooftops escaping flood waters since last Thursday. The scenes and reactions are similar to Katrina two years
ago. Have you seen our leadership on TV, looking concerned and promising to send our southern neighbor as many emergency helicopters and relief supplies as they need? Do we have groups sending private aid to Mexico like we did after Katrina and the Asian Tsunami?

Or are the weekend football games we enjoy more important than 65,000 people and their pets waiting for help on their roofs—without food and water, their jobs and businesses washed away? Or is it just untimely
to have these disasters fall on a weekend?"


The full article, and proposed solutions, can be found at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GlobalAmerican

Friday, November 02, 2007

From Floods to Building Boom

Photo: Got $325,000? Too late. They are building Phase III (Both Phase I and II were completely sold before construction finished).

I'm sitting in Mazatlan's airport waiting for a flight out, having turned down an opportunity to buy a coffee cup Souvenir that said "Mazatlan" but on the bottom it said: "Made in China."  Geez, even the Mexico souvenirs are made in China! Ouch.  Mexico is losing jobs to China as well as the U.S.

But not construction jobs.  Apparently the building boom started here about three years ago. I asked a guy selling $300,000 (up) condos on the beach about it.  His response? "Baby boomers."  American baby boomers are coming  down and buying up real estate left and right. He said about 65% of their sales were to Americans, 30% to Canadian and about 5% to Mexican citizens. He also said that a condo that sells for $600,000 in Cabo San Lucas goes for half that in Mazatlan, making it a good bargain. And unlike Cabo, which is all tourists, Mazatlan has other industries from fishing to building trucks.

But i also found out from some American tourists I met on a city bus that the new multi-story condos are having to truck in their water. "New" Mazatlan does not have the piping to service all the new buildings going up.  The contractors have got to be making a fortune. Some units next to my little place (a timeshare with real cocanut trees) are selling for $400,000 - $500,000.  And people are coming down in droves and paying CASH for them.  

Needless to say, I didn't buy a thing.  The room did have CNN International (much better than CNN U.S.) which covered the horrible floods on the Mexican east coast in Tabasco. I'm directly west and there hasn't been a cloud in the sky all week.  

Interestingly, the TV had quite a few English TV programs (with Spanish subtitles). Almost none of it was worth watching, compared to viewing Pelicans soaring just above the breaking waves, looking for a fish dinner.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mexico and the U.S.


Photo: The military is VERY visible in Mexico these days.

The attached video is a first test. Behind me is a new hotel/timeshare going up.

 I met a former NY cop at our bar a couple nights ago. He said that some of the hotels being built on Mazatlan's beaches did not have deep enough footings; he said one building appears to be leaning towards the ocean. 

Another person told me that they sat through a presentation on another hotel -- this one being constructed with a material that the sales people said can bend instead of break (like bricks) in a storm. I took a photo of one new one going up that was just plain brick covered with stucco -- so construction quality varies greatly. About 1 hotel is going up for every 10 timeshares.  You can "buy" something for as little as $150,000 to $250,000 (foreigners can only lease for 99 years if the place is within 50 km of the ocean).

Apparently timeshares are the rage and everyone seems to be in the real estate business. These guys will offer you a "free" Fiesta ticket or a breakfast in exchange for a 90 minute presentation that makes high pressure look like a fire hose.  They want your driver's license number and a valid credit card expiration date.  I don't recommend giving that out. They approach you on the beach or in front of a hotel and promise a "freebie." You'll get the "freebie" but at a cost.

But like I said, the more tourist jobs that are created here, the fewer immigrants will be heading north for jobs in the U.S.....

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jobs in Mexico Equals Less Immigration

For those who want to see illegal immigration stop I have a solution -- go to Mexico as a tourist -- because it creates jobs here that will keep people here.  

I'm here on business. Driving along the coast road it appeared as though the entire coast is under construction. 

Hotels and condos are going up all along the coast, from the old city to the new beaches to the north. In the city and on the road from the airport was a huge military presence, something I'd never seen before in previous trips to Mexico.

The people here are very polite and hard-working. I'm in a small hotel and the one guy manning the thatched-roof restaurant works from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Despite the hours and regardless of the time of day, Jose is entirely cordial with a dry sense of humor all day.  English is widely spoken and understood. The bus ride along the coast road is 50 cents. 

You can take a boat tour of a place called Stone Island that takes all day and only costs $35 with lunch, drinks, etc.

So if you want to cut immigration, come spend your dollars somewhere in Mexico. The tour guide on the Stone Island tour over weekend told me that tourism was now their No. 1 driver of the local economy. He and the boat crew worked diligently all day to keep everyone happy.  

I see business opportunities here for U.S. products as well.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

From South of the Border

Photo: Pacific Ocean from Mazatlan, Mexico

Flew into Mazatlan, on Mexico's Pacific coast, yesterday. A tourist today told me that a week ago the waves were over 10 feet high - caused by a hurricane in the Pacific that was long gone by the time I arrived. One hotel had put sandbags near their pool to keep out the ocean's high tide.

I saw one hotel that had built steel shutters to cover the patio windows --pretty gross. The others have glass balconies with no protection.

This little "ranchero" is a two story timeshare that has maybe 20 units. Very quiet. Everyone speaks English and is very nice. The photo is from a cabana looking out at sea.

My Verizon phone doesn't work here (it was supposed to), but the place does have wireless Internet so it isn't totally disconnected from the planet. However, when I pull up Google or blogger, the browser comes up in Spanish, not English! Fortunately, it didn't convert my blog into Spanish or I'd be in mucho trouble.

Over 10,000 Americans have retired here because it is so much cheaper than the U.S. It's 10 pesos to the buck. So Mexico is cheap for American travelers, just as the U.S.A. is now cheap to Canadians and Europeans since our currency has dipped so low against the Canadian "loonie" (dollar) and the Euro.

However, the hotels here have gotten smart and charge similar prices for food and drink. But you can still get a lobster dinner for two for $35 -- and breakfast for four was just under $40.

This morning the Pelicans were flying low over the waves in formation along the beach. And the sunset last night was stunning -- a big red ball.

If someone starts World War III, this would be a great place to sit it out. Coconuts grow on the trees and I doubt it is on anyone's missile target list.

Today Mexico set back its clocks 1 hour, a week ahead of the time change in the U.S. So frankly, I have no clue what time it is. And for the next few days I really don't care. Walking in the soft sand and enjoying the slower pace of life here is chicken soup for the soul...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Red Tape and Homeowners helped Wildfires

From wildfires to hurricanes, we need changes in government and private rules and codes to protect our property in future natural disasters.

The California fires could have been stopped had it not been for government mismanagement and lack of common sense by homeowners. Texas faces the same issues that need correction.

In the early stages, before the wildfires and winds had become dangerous, critical time was lost because of silly rules that kept aircraft grounded until a California "fire spotter" could be on board.

By the time they got there, the aircraft were grounded due to high winds and the fires grew out of control. So much for "being prepared" for a homeland security issue that is an annual event. Next year there will be more drought, dry grass and strong Santa Ana winds blowing across California.

Another writer points out that our policies on wildfires, and lack of common sense preparedness by homeowners who let dry brush grow right up next to their multi-million dollar homes.

Moral? Both government and individuals need to make some changes to avoid future damages. Get rid of the fire spotter rule and get homeowners to clear brush from around their homes.

Not to leave our own area out of this homeland security critique: The U.S. coastal zones, including Texas, need to establish "Miami Dade" building code standards. Builders can put up million dollar condos on Clear Lake (Houston--spitting distance from the Gulf of Mexico) whose windows will blow out once hit by debris or winds in excess of 75 mph!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

China Enters the Next Moon Race

Photo: China lunar orbiter blasts off

When I first went to China on pollution technology negotiations in 1982, they had no money and everyone rode bicycles. Now, China has launched a craft to orbit the moon, in preparation of putting Chinese astronauts on the moon in coming years.

China recently become only the third country to put astronauts in space and return them safely to earth. China is now a rich country, filled with automobiles and construction cranes, as its factories supply the U.S. with everything you can buy at Wal Mart ("Wally World"). They might beat NASA's return to the moon if we don't pay attention.

On the earthly, home front, the shoe was on the other foot. Yesterday a painter came by the condo to paint the front door. A black cat followed him inside, apparently because it likes to follow him around to check out everyone's place. Well, "Piper" the Cockatiel didn't like the presence of a cat one bit. She started fluttering her wings and making a racket.

The cat was last scene scurrying out of the place --running hellbent for leather. Personally, I like cats but this one had met its match with Piper. Apparently, I have a bird that intimates cats.

I am thinking of sending Piper to Washington -- to deal with DC Fat Cats!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hell Fires Pass Katrina Evacuation Record


California's "Hell Fires" (for lack of a better name) have made history.

Yesterday they were in second place to New Orleans, but now over half million people have been evacuated, far more than the number fleeing Katrina's drowning pools.

The Super dome has been replaced with Qualcomm Stadium --and people fleeing a surreal fire and brimstone scene. One house burns while the one next to it is spared. One man returned to find his garage burned but the house next to it was still standing. Lucky man.

In 2005 I was driving water and supplies to Louisiana when FEMA was no where to be seen. In 2007, California doesn't need me; it needs firefighter crews from around the country -- and more aircraft that can dump water and retardant on the wildfires.

One scene that stuck out was the TV shot of a guy manning an ordinary water hose. He and others had banded together and saved at least one house in their neighborhood. That's the American spirit and unsung (ordinary) American heroes at work even when it doesn't get much TV coverage.

I think the silver lining is that a lot of the people now out of their homes in California will have a better idea what the folks in New Orleans went through two years ago. Losing it all in seconds. Your whole life changed forever by an act of nature outside anyone's control. Relying on the kindness of strangers. Starting over and rebuilding. Realizing that life is more important than the stuff in your house. But it still hurts, losing everything you had.

It could be worse. Add car bombs and snipers and these same people would have a clue what civilians in Iraq are going through every day.

Let's do what it takes to help our neighbors in California, and not forget our neighbors in New Orleans who are still struggling. It's the American thing to do.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

California Fires: Biggest Evacuation since Rita/Katrina


The fires in California have forced over 250,000 people out of their homes, the largest evacuation in U.S. history since Hurricane Rita/Katrina. The dry Santa Ana winds continue to spread the blazes which have destroyed nearly 1,000 homes so far.

Where is FEMA?

This disaster should have a massive federal response, just like a flood or a hurricane. The small towns are running out of money to fight the fires and don't have the equipment needed. Our hearts go out to all the people in southern California who are going through this disturbance in their lives.

If car bombs were going off, they would personally feel something like the pain that millions of Iraqis are living today.

The good news is that Osama bin laden showed up on tape, complaining about his jihadists failing to unite (darn those tribal fanatics!)

The bad news: Turkey is sending troops towards the Kurdish part of Iraq after Kurd rebels went into Turkey and killed several Turkish troops. Seventy (70%) of our equipment goes into Iraq via Turkey. Check out this link to a great article on this tricky situation and its impact on us.

Meanwhile, we got our first cold front on the Texas coast yesterday, blowing in rain and a 30 degree drop in the low temp. The cold makes hanging out on the balcony for a drink at night a windy, cold (and short) experience!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cavemen Threw Beach Parties?

Photo: Modern caveman (and friends) on the hunt for seafood....

Scientists have found evidence that cavemen 164,000 years ago were having seafood parties on the beach.

It's proof that we haven't changed much in 164,000 years (except in technology)!

Robot Gun Goes Mad - Kills Nine. Future clone wars?

Photo: Ms. Bhutto narrowly escapes Al Qaida assassination attempt - Possible solution may be in South Africa

In South Africa a robot gun went out of control for unknown reasons and killed nine people. What made it so deadly is that it can even reload itself and keep firing. Nine South African soldiers were killed before it finally ran out of bullets.

Remember the Terminator movies with Arnold? It appears that the 21st Century may be when humans and robots clash in combat. We have robot Predator drones that fly around looking for Al Qaida, firing Hellfire missiles on suspects, etc.

Several Predators used on border patrol with Mexico have disconnected from their human operators due to computer malfunctions -- and crashed near people's houses, right here in the U.S.A. So your chances of getting killed by a robot in the future are improving, especially if you are a terrorist. But now even innocents may be in the cross-hairs of an automatic killing machine. Perhaps the Star Wars "clonewars" is not so far off after all.

Speaking of "robot killers," it appears the usual suspects, Al Qaida, were behind the attempted assassination yesterday of Ms. Bhutto that killed over 100 people. Once again, extremists can't stand leadership with moderate or secular views. Al Qaida knows that unlike Musharraf, Bhutto would let the U.S. chase Al Qaida out of its hide-outs in NW Pakistan.

Maybe we can persuade the South Africans to take their wayward robot gun to work in Osama bin laden territory...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Which countries google "Sex" the Most? Or "car bomb"?

Photo: Pakistan (car?) bomb that nearly killed Ms. Bhutto today --the blast even broke her car windows

Neither sex or car bombs compare to the impact on our future from the disaster unfolding in the arctic.

Check out this intriguing article on which words are "googled" (searched) the most in various countries. It is both funny and, in one case, scary.

The word "sex" was searched the most in Egypt, India and Turkey. Ummmm. (Why is it the most conservative places score high on this one?)

The word "Jihad" was searched the most in Morocco, Indonesia, and Pakistan. (That should make everyone sleep great tonight, knowing Pakistan has nukes and Benazir Bhutto is back to fight for democracy and save the day).

The scary one?

The words "car bomb" is searched the most in - Australia, Canada and the United States.

Since India is the second most populous country in the world, jihad is happening in Pakistan, then what does this search trend indicate for the United States?

The other "wake up call" news is that we lost 25% of the arctic ice in just two years since 2005. The planet's arctic air conditioning system is being lost at a catastrophic rate. If the President is worried that doing something about global warming will "hurt" business, ignoring it will be even worse. Imagine how bad it will be for business to have a drought-covered, UV hot planet with dwindling fresh water caused by overheating after the arctic ice cap is gone a few years from now.

What's clear from these new facts is that we have no more time to waste. There needs to be a new global treaty, a "cap and trade" system, something! Fiddling while Rome burns is not a good idea. We need action now --and a pledge from all candidates from both parties -- to protect ourselves and future generations, from both car bombs and the even worse results from global warming.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Only in America: Cousins Cheney and Obama

Photo: Seabrook Citgo and World's Smallest Commercial building

It turns out the Vice President Cheney and Mr. Obama are distant cousins. Amazing.

Only in America can something like this happen. Can you imagine Barack Obama saying to Dick Cheney: "Hey Cousin, what's up?" Or more likely: "Dick, can we dialogue?"

Actually, such diverse connections are a symbol of the future of this country. In a few years 25% of our residents will speak Spanish, not to mention all the other cultures and languages and family trees represented here. If we go back to Abraham, we are all cousins.

Meanwhile, the rest of us mere mortals are feeling like yo-yos, watching gas prices jump and fall as much as a dime in a day. Each day brings a big change one way or the other. Now they predict $100/barrel oil.

To keep from mortgaging the house to fill up the van, I discovered that cash gets 10 cents off at a Citgo station a couple blocks away (photo above--next to what I call the world's smallest, and oddest triangle shaped, commercial building).

That means I get to choose between my gas tank dollars funding Mr. Chavez in Venezuela (part owner of Citgo) versus filling up with gas at another place, part of which may be funneled back to Osama bin laden.

Ummmm. Have things changed much since the days when Oscar Wyatt's Coastal stations had Saddam's oil for sale? Too bad we can't buy more oil from Mexico, which would create more jobs there and not fuel "jihad."

The situation is about as odd as the pink building above.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Vicente Fox Comes to Houston - Says "U.S. is too Isolated"


The former President of Mexico visited Houston yesterday to talk about U.S./Mexico relations, etc.

His message? "Americans are too isolated from the rest of the world." And he doesn't like the wall.

He's right actually. We are too isolated from the world. That has led to a lot of cultural blunders by our leadership that undermine even the best of intentions. For example, if you are asking a Saudi for a favor while sitting cross-legged with the sole of your shoe facing him, you are insulting him -- no matter how much you might be trying to be nice and polite. The fact that you are clueless that you are insulting your host makes it even worse in their eyes.

Chewing tobacco in front of someone in Afghanistan is the same thing. Ignorance of customs is damaging our international relationships. And it is dumb when it sabotages our own interests. The only way to avoid it is to learn about people.

The good news is that more young Americans are studying abroad, traveling, etc. The bad news is that we have countless candidates running for high office such as Congress who have zero international experience or knowledge.

Never again should we elect someone to be President who does not have global experience and cannot communicate with diverse peoples --it is too dangerous to have on-the-job training and basic cultural miscues in the White House.

It is too dangerous for Americans to elect to Congress reps who may be excellent skin doctors but don't know Burma from Burma Shave, have never been to the Middle East, or anywhere else except as a tourist?

I've been out there. Every country is different. Every culture is different. The unwritten rules will get you. It's not something you can get from a book or 'on-the-job'. Congress choices on Iraq led to a war and a lot of false assumptions proved wrong. People with global experience have a definite edge in knowing what they are talking about and protecting the public.

A Wall? I still remember the Berlin Wall - how Americans hated it because of what it symbolized. Now we are doing what the Soviet Union did.

I agree with Mr. Fox that we don't need a wall with Mexico - electronic monitoring of movement across the border makes much more sense. Monitoring is much less expensive and lets you send people where they need to go instead of investing billions constructing something so easy to climb as a wall through thousands of miles of desert.

One recommendation: President Fox should take his mission, modeled on former U.S. Presidents, and establish a foundation that builds on improving U.S./Mexico relations. After all, Mexico is not the Middle East. Due to geography, we will be next door neighbors for centuries to come.

We might as well figure out solutions to work together.

The longer version of this is at my Global American series site.