OPEC Should Have It This Good

To hell with the price of gas- have you checked out the price of milk? I just got back from Kroger’s, and a gallon of milk was $3.45. not a few months ago the price was around $2.45.

On the cooler was an explanation (of sorts), with a link to this website. Read the whole thing, but the only real explanation was this:

U.S. dairy farmers produced about 1.7% less milk through April this year than they did in those same months last year. The primary cause is the low farm milk prices of 2002 and the first half of 2003. The milk supply, which is slow to adjust to reduced dairy farm returns, is finally responding. Hampering recovery is the U.S. ban of movement of live dairy cattle from Canada, formerly a major supplier of young milking cows, due to last year’s discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) in a Canadian cow.

The price of beef is also through the roof, too.

The Benefits of Nuclear Power

Mark Kleiman has a must-read piece on nulear power, in which he cogently outlines the case for nuclear power. However, as a partisan and a polemicist, I shall choose to focus on this part of his post:

Nuclear waste. This is a problem only if you think that we need to plan waste disposal that will (no, I’m not making this up) survive the end of civilization and be safe for the ignorant primitive nomads who will wander the earth 10,000 years from now. Actually, the solution isn’t technically very hard.

Current plans are to deal with all the waste, high-level and low-level, together. The idea is bury the stuff in deep salt caves and pray the water table doesn’t rise. And of course no one wants to have the burial site nearby; that fact just might cost George Bush, who broke a campaign promise and did the right thing, Nevada’s electoral votes.

In the Washington Post today, George Will writes:

John Kerry recently stopped in Las Vegas to say: “Rest assured, Nevada. If I’m president, Yucca Mountain will not be a depository…”

But in 1996 President Bill Clinton promised to veto any attempt to make Nevada even a temporary repository. That promise helped him beat Bob Dole there by just 4,730 votes, the smallest state margin that year.

In 2000 George W. Bush promised not to make Nevada a temporary repository, but said “sound science” would guide him regarding establishing a permanent repository there. He beat Al Gore 50-46 (301,575 to 279,978). A switch of 10,799 votes would have made Gore president.

In 2002 Bush approved Yucca Mountain as the permanent site. Congress said Nevada’s governor could veto the selection but that his veto could be overridden by majorities in both houses. He vetoed it; Congress overrode him.

By this protracted dance of democracy the interests of an American majority — 161 million live within 75 miles of today’s storage sites — prevailed, respectfully, over the objections of an intense minority, the approximately 2 million people who live in southern Nevada. Kerry’s willingness to overturn this accommodation reflects a cold, and factually correct, calculation having nothing to do with the national interest: For the intense and compact Nevada minority, unlike for the diffuse American majority, this is a vote-determining issue.

Two points:

1.) Bush flip-flopped to do the right thing. Kerry seems to have changed his mind as a result of political calculations.

2.) It isn’t the GOP and the mainstream media unfairly portraying Kerry as having consistently changing positions. It is the fact that Kerry has consistently changing positions, based on crass political opportunism.

Internet Tax Ban

Good news for the internet:

The Senate voted overwhelmingly to restore a ban on taxing Internet connections for four years, stopping short of the permanent ban approved by the House.

The two chambers will try to work out their differences over an issue that pits a U.S. telecommunications industry trying to expand a range of services against state and local governments worried they could lose billions of dollars in tax revenue.

Voting against the ban:

Voting against the Senate bill were Democratic Sens. Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico; Bob Graham, Florida; and Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey.

Apparently, Kerry did not want his patriotism questioned again, so he declined to vote.

It Is Now Undeniable

Despite the media massaging of the 4.2 % growth rate last quarter, the economic recovery is now undeniable. Says Max:

I don’t do economic predictions, but if I had to bet, I’d say the economy has turned around. The easiest criticism of Bush economic policy — the lack of job growth — may no longer be available.

Not that there aren’t still those out there who hope people remain unemployed so that the Democrats can achieve some political gain:

We liberals would like to think that the election is going to turn (or can be made to turn) on the state of the economy, or perhaps on favored social issues like education or healthcare. This is dreamland. The economy is going to do whatever the economy does, and right now it looks like it will be bad enough that Kerry has a chance to win but good enough that it won’t hurt Bush too badly. Relying on that to win the election would be foolish.

Of course- you can still hang your electoral hopes on bad things happening in Iraq:

Survey results for the past several months have been clear: Bush’s approval ratings for handling the war have gone down, people increasingly believe it was a mistake to invade Iraq, and sentiment is moving in the direction of bringing the troops home. But this hasn’t helped Kerry. It does give him an opening, but by itself it’s not enough for people to have doubts about Bush; they also have to believe that Kerry is likely to do a better job.

Blogs As A Source of Intelligence

THis seems like an interesting idea:

People in black trench coats might soon be chasing blogs.

Blogs, short for Web logs, are personal online journals. Individuals post them on Web sites to report or comment on news especially, but also on their personal lives or most any subject.

Some blogs are whimsical and deal with “soft” subjects. Others, though, are cutting edge in delivering information and opinion.

As a result, some analysts say U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials might be starting to track blogs for important bits of information. This interest is a sign of how far Web media such as blogs have come in reshaping the data-collection habits of intelligence professionals and others, even with the knowledge that the accuracy of what’s reported in some blogs is questionable.

Still, a panel of folks who work in the U.S. intelligence field – some of them spies or former spies – discussed this month at a conference in Washington the idea of tracking blogs.

“News and intelligence is about listening with a critical ear, and blogs are just another conversation to listen to and evaluate. They also are closer to (some situations) and may serve as early alerts,” said Jock Gill, a former adviser on Internet media to President Clinton, in a later phone interview, after he spoke on the panel.

I am sure some people might worry about infringements to civil liberties, but I don’t immediately see how. As a blogger, I am putting things into the public domain freely. This sounds to me to be along the same lines as the Terrorism Futures Market, which was and still is a great idea, despite what the loudmouth know-nothings have to say.

This seems to be another attempt to gather synthesized and in many cases, raw data. Why not?

In other blogging news, Oliver saw this line on Law and ORder: SVU (I, like most rational human beings, was watching the Chapelle Show):

“Gentlemen, your so-called victim has been doing a little ‘blogging.'”

I Am Curious

How are the usual suspects going to tell me this is bad news:

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in February as a combination of the weak U.S. dollar and stronger economic growth propelled both exports and imports to record levels, a government report showed on Wednesday.

The February trade gap totaled $42.1 billion, down more than 3 percent from January and slightly below analysts’ pre-report expectations of $42.5 billion.

U.S. exports leapt four percent — the highest monthly increase since October 1996 — to a record $92.4 billion, while imports rose 1.6 percent to a record $134.5 billion.

The politically sensitive trade gap with China fell nearly 28 percent in February as imports from that country slipped to $11.3 billion, the lowest level in nearly a year, and exports to China rose 17 percent to $3.0 billion.

The lower dollar appeared to help all categories of exports, as shipments of industrial supplies and materials and autos and auto parts both set records. Exports of consumer goods were only slightly below the record set in November and exports of capital goods, such as aircraft and industrial machines, were the highest since May 2001.

Exports of services, which include travel, also set a record.

Meanwhile, the surging U.S. economy sucked in record agricultural and industrial imports, while auto and auto parts imports had their second best showing.

Another Spy?

This just up on Drudge:

An American citizen was arrested Thursday on charges she acted as an Iraqi spy before and after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, accepting $10,000 for her work, prosecutors said Thursday.

Susan Lindauer, 41, was arrested in her hometown of Takoma Park, Md., and was to appear in court later in the day in Baltimore, authorities in New York said.

She was accused of conspiring to act as a spy for the Iraqi Intelligence Service and with engaging in prohibited financial transactions involving the government of Iraq under dictator Saddam Hussein.

According to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Lindauer made multiple visits from October 1999 through March 2002 to the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations in Manhattan.

There, she met with several members of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, the foreign intelligence arm of the government of Iraq that allegedly has played a role in terrorist operations, including an attempted assassination of former President George H.W. Bush, the indictment alleged.

Is this the same Susan Lindauer that was involved in the Lockerbie bombing?