Brief comments relating to topics currently in the news . . .
In a world with seemingly a diminishing few friends of the United States, Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard stands out. For instance, he has made his country the last partner in “the coalition of the willing” in Iraq. “Our commitment to Iraq remains, and Australian forces will remain at their present levels in Iraq — not based on any calendar but based on conditions on the ground.”
In other words, Australia is with the U.S. — whatever it takes. Notes President Bush, “America could ask for no better friend and more steadfast ally than Prime Minister John Howard.”
France’s new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, may prove a close second to Howard. To the evident dismay of questioner Leslie Stahl, he began a CBS interview by speaking proudly of his nickname, “Sarko the American” (Sarko L’Americain) — conferred partly for his love of American music and culture. She began lobbing soft questions about him and his life, and he grew exasperated.
When she asked him to discuss “the great mystery” of his reportedly difficult marriage, Sarkozy blew: “If I had something to say about (my wife) Cecilia, I would certainly not do so here,” he said — unclipping his microphone and bidding her adieu. One of America’s newest friends was saying, in effect, I have more important things to do than put up with your idiot inquiries. Oh, and have a nice day.
Is it not dismaying that the Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles is evicting nuns from convents in order to sell the buildings — thereby to fund a $660 million settlement to 508 victims of (primarily) 221 pederastic priests?
Collegiate cheating is rife, according to Beliefnet’s Charlotte Allen: “(A) 56 percent cheating ratio for business-school students is only a few percentage points higher than the 50 percent of college undergraduates surveyed during the 2006-2007 academic year who reported they had engaged in ‘serious’ forms of cheating — cribbing notes and copying during an exam, performing cut-and-paste plagiarism, submitting someone else’s work as their own.”
She cites work by Rutgers Professor Donald McCabe to this effect: “When you factor in forms of cheating that undergraduates don’t consider serious — collaborating or getting help on assignments when asked for individual work or learning what was on a test from someone who took it earlier — the percentage rises to 67 percent. What a culture, what a country.
Nuclear power may be on its way back. Having received no applications for new reactors in 31 years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects applications for 29 new reactors at 20 sites within the next 14 months. Anticipated investment: as much as $90 billion. If approved by the NRC and ultimately built, the 29 new reactors would augment the nation’s aging fleet of 104 reactors.
Abroad — notably in Europe, Russia, China, India, the Middle East, and Japan — nuclear power also is on the rise. Most recently, Egypt announced it will build a new reactor at El-Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast. Sanity at last, a consequence partly of environmentalist refusal to drill for oil where we should or to burn the abundant coal we have.
One possible reason things are improving for the good guys in Iraq: the unmanned Predator A, a reconnaissance drone that can spot and jihadi terrorists on the ground, has flown 300,000 hours in Iraq — more than half of that time over combat areas.
And here’s one: How is it that leftists can be so certain about the corporate/capitalist origins of global warming, yet can remain so insistently uncertain about the Islamist origins of global terror?
In case you missed it, there’s a nationwide shortage of nurses. How critical is it? During the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Department of Health and Human Services anticipate the need for more than 1 million new and replacement nurses. The reasons are numerous. Here are three: (1) More patients as baby-boomers retire, (2) inadequate nurse-training facilities, and (3) insufficient faculty to teach nursing students.
Informed speculation: The Israeli raid that eviscerated — removed from the landscape — a copy of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, was (a) a self-defensive Israeli action to deny ownership of a nuclear facility to Syria and (b) a warning to Iran regarding possible prospects for its future.
New Jersey Judge Neil Shuster has ruled in Robertson vs. Princeton that the Robertson family is entitled to its day in court. The family’s concern is that Princeton has not spent the principal in a fund (now nearly $900 million) the way the donors had stipulated. Violating donor directives is widespread among recipient colleges — and colleges are increasingly nervous this is a case Princeton ultimately might lose. In the words of a piece in the Financial Times: “The (Robertson) case has crystallized a transformation in the fundraising culture of higher education, as philanthropists take a more active role in overseeing their donations.” The case will proceed to trial. Stay tuned.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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