People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Solution That Dare Not Speak Its Name

The problem:
There's a pox on the global health care system
The World Health Organization estimates 200,000 people die each year from taking fake anti-malarial drugs. Better safeguards are needed.

Roanoke Times editorial

There will never be enough money or health care workers in any given year to relieve all the suffering and deaths around the world from malaria. But it shouldn't be too much to expect that those who are reached receive genuine medication.

That isn't what is happening. The New York Times this week reported on the growing epidemic of deadly counterfeit drugs in Asia and Africa. By far, the largest market is for fake artemisinin, the newest miracle drug for malaria.

The plague of fake drugs is so deadly that the World Health Organization estimates 200,000 of the million people who die each year from malaria perished because of counterfeit medication. (link)
200,000. Tragic.

But, in fact, a drop in the bucket.

And the anguish expressed amounts to nothing more than crocodile tears, because those deaths could have, in fact, been prevented, had the do-gooders of the world allowed the deaths to be prevented. The bigger picture:
Malaria is one of the world’s deadliest diseases - killing three times more children than HIV/AIDS. Malaria is an infection caused by a parasite and carried from person to person by mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable yet over 500 million people contract it per year and more than one million people die from it annually —most of them young children living in Africa. (link)
500,000,000 human beings contract the disease each year. 1,000,000 die. A large proportion of which are little children. Killed because we refuse to allow the most effective remedy to be deployed. And for no good reason.

The simple remedy: DDT.

Let Me Know If They Grab Each Other's Hair ...

Otherwise I have no interest in what either of these losers has to say about each other:
Clinton, Obama Camps' Feud Is Out in the Open
By Chris Cillizza and Dan Balz, Washington Post Staff Writers

An increasingly acrimonious competition between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton to enlist the Democratic Party's leading fundraisers and operatives burst into the open yesterday, overshadowing what was billed as the presidential campaign's first gathering of candidates in Nevada.

The back-and-forth between the two campaigns has largely been fodder for political insiders. Yesterday, however, David Geffen ... (link)
Only when this makes its way to Jerry Springer will I become interested. Until then ...

A Debate Worth Revisiting

I've always been of two minds (some would say no mind) on the subject of free trade. Yes, it benefits, without doubt, the economies of all nations that participate fully. And that, in itself, should bring an abrupt end to the debate.

But then we see the devastating effects of all the textile and furniture plant closings that have taken place in Southwest Virginia in recent years, many of which probably could have been avoided had tariffs on imported goods not been lifted.

That should give a free-trader pause. I would hope.

Another voice:

Can Free Trade Be a Fair Deal?
By Harold Meyerson, The Washington Post

Within the past year, an important new debate has taken shape ...

The debate begins at the familiar flash point of trade -- more particularly, with the realization of business elites and their political champions that the nation's free-trade policies have become threatened by growing public anxiety over our economic future. While corporate profits soar, individual wages stagnate, held at least partly in check by the brave new fact of offshoring -- that millions of Americans' jobs can be performed at a fraction of the cost in developing nations near and far.

In reaction ... to reams of economic data showing that the U.S. median income has flat-lined, such longtime champions of free-trade orthodoxy as former Clinton Treasury secretary Robert Rubin have changed their tune. (link)

I've made the argument in the past that, because the USA is still the world's marketplace, that targeted tariffs, if implemented carefully, can be effective, can be of benefit to American workers, and won't harm the economy.

There is no better case to be made than with furniture and textiles. Yes, you'd end up paying more for end-products. But there's that looming menace: "... the U.S. median income has flat-lined."

Cheap clothing and furniture coming out of China are swell ... for those who have a job and disposable income. For those who don't ...

Milton Friedman once said: "The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit." I think we need to take a look at the definition of the term parties. We are finding out, the hard way, that the concept includes you and me, brother.

You Knew It Was Coming

A sign has gone up at the Mexican border directed at all those who would wish to begin their visit to the USA by sneaking across and breaking our laws. Bob Barker (and George W Bush) would be proud: COME ON DOWN!
Senate illegals bill near complete
By Charles Hurt, The Washington Times

Senators and lobbyists are putting the final touches on a comprehensive immigration-reform bill that includes an easier citizenship path for illegal aliens and weaker enforcement provisions than were in the highly criticized legislation that the Senate approved last year.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who ardently supports citizenship rights for illegals, will introduce the bill as early as next week ...

Mr. Kennedy drafted this year's bill with help from Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and outside lobbyists. Mr. McCain and the outside groups share Mr. Kennedy's support for increased immigration and leniency for illegals already in the country.

Mr. McCain and Mr. Kennedy have long embraced the same goal of giving illegal aliens a direct path to U.S. citizenship despite having broken laws to get here in the first place. (link)
McCain and Kennedy.
McCain and Kennedy!
McCain and Kennedy!!
McCain and Kennedy!!!
McCain and Kennedy!!!

Demanding A Fix For What Ain't Broke

The New York Times is in high dudgeon this morning over a federal appeals court's ruling that foreign combatants being held in American detention centers are not to be granted the rights of American citizens:
American Liberty at the Precipice

In another low moment for American justice, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that detainees held at the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, do not have the right to be heard in court.

The right of prisoners to challenge their confinement — habeas corpus — is enshrined in the Constitution and is central to American liberty. Congress and the Supreme Court should act quickly and forcefully to undo the grievous damage that last fall’s law — and this week’s ruling — have done to this basic freedom.

When the Founding Fathers put habeas corpus in Article I of the Constitution, they were underscoring the vital importance to a democracy of allowing prisoners to challenge their confinement in a court of law. Much has changed since Sept. 11, but the bedrock principles of American freedom must remain. (link)
They make a great - and impassioned - argument. And a good one at that, if it weren't for the fact that the Supreme Court disagrees. Let's look at a matter called Ex parte Quirin:

In these causes motions for leave to file petitions for habeas corpus were presented to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, which entered orders denying the motions. Motions for leave to file petitions for habeas corpus were then presented to this Court, and the merits of the applications were fully argued at the Special Term of Court convened on July 29, 1942....

The Court holds:

(1) That the charges preferred against petitioners on which they are being tried by military commission appointed by the order of the President of July 2, 1942, allege an offense or offenses which the President is authorized to order tried before a military commission. (2) That the military commission was lawfully constituted. (3) That petitioners are held in lawful custody, for trial before the military commission, and have not shown cause for being discharged by writ of habeas corpus. The motions for leave to file petitions for writs of habeas corpus are denied....

Mr. Chief Justice STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

These cases are brought here by petitioners' several applications for leave to file petitions for habeas corpus in this Court...The question for decision is whether the detention of petitioners by respondent for trial by Military Commission, appointed by Order of the President of July 2, 1942, on charges preferred against them purporting to set out their violations of the law of war and of the Articles of War, is in conformity to the laws and Constitution of the United States.

Petitioners' main contention is that the President is without any statutory or constitutional authority to order the petitioners to be tried by military tribunal for offenses with which they are charged; that in consequence they are entitled to be tried in the civil courts with the safeguards, including trial by jury, which the Fifth and Sixth Amendments guarantee to all persons charged in such courts with criminal

By universal agreement and practice the law of war draws a distinction between the armed forces and the peaceful populations of belligerent nations and also between those who are lawful and unlawful combatants. Lawful combatants are subject to capture and detention as prisoners of war by opposing military forces. Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful. (link)
"Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals ..."

Back to the drawing board, fellas.

The Command Shift Begins?

The British have begun drawing down their forces in Iraq, giving us the chance to now find out if the Iraqi army is prepared to go it alone:
Britain to Trim Iraq Force by 1,600 in Coming Months
By Alan Cowell, The New York Times

London, Feb. 21 — Prime Minister Tony Blair announced Wednesday that up to 1,600 of the roughly 7,100 British troops in southern Iraq would begin to withdraw in coming months, a sharp contrast to the continuing American troop buildup in Baghdad.

“What all this means is not that Basra is how we want it to be,” Mr. Blair said, “but it does mean that the next chapter in Basra’s history can be written by Iraqis.” (link)
Basra is considerably less volatile than is Baghdad these days, so it would seem that if there's a section of the war-torn country, besides the passive Kurdish region to the north, where a draw down should start, it would be in Basra.

The beginning of the end of the struggle in Iraq? We'll see.