Saturday, November 19, 2005

New-housing market slumping
Building starts and permits drop across the nation

Seems to be a consensus emerging that the housing boom is about over. Better hurry up and buy that $600,000 condo in Fresno with an interest-only variable rate loan before it's too late.

Any doubt that the national housing market is beginning to cool disappeared yesterday, according to some experts. New housing starts and building permits nationwide both saw sharp declines in October, according to data released yesterday by the Commerce Department. It's likely that higher mortgage rates are finally taking their toll on a housing boom that has lasted more than five years, far longer than many expected

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction
This has nothing to do with HOAs. I just want to publicize this report from the Silverman-Robb Commission, so that people can put in perspective the recent revival of the "Bush lies" rhetoric about the Iraq war and the missing WMDs.

I have posted here (italicized below) the main conclusion of the Commission, which had all the President's daily briefings and other intelligence he relied on. See if you can find there, or anywhere in the report, any indication that President Bush lied to the public or browbeat the intelligence agencies of the USA, France, Great Britain, Russia, and Italy into submission. What you find instead is a conclusion that US intelligence agencies believed, and told the President and members of Congress, that the WMDs were there.

That's why the President believed Saddam had the weapons. That's why most of the Republicans and Democrats in both houses of Congress believed it, too.

Now, Democrats are claiming that Bush somehow "knew" the weapons weren't there, but said they were there, so he could get a vote for war. This is completely implausible. How could Bush have known the weapons weren't there, when the agencies he relied upon were telling him the weapons were there? Upon what factual basis would he have disbelieved this overwhelming consensus?

And if he believed what the intelligence agencies were telling him--that the weapons were there--then he wasn't lying, was he?

So, here's the main conclusion of the Commission:

On the brink of war, and in front of the whole world, the United States government asserted that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program, had biological weapons and mobile biological weapon production facilities, and had stockpiled and was producing chemical weapons. All of this was based on the assessments of the U.S. Intelligence Community. And not one bit of it could be confirmed when the war was over.
While the intelligence services of many other nations also thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, in the end it was the United States that put its credibility on the line, making this one of the most public--and most damaging--intelligence failures in recent American history.
This failure was in large part the result of analytical shortcomings; intelligence analysts were too wedded to their assumptions about Saddam's intentions. But it was also a failure on the part of those who collect intelligence--CIA's and the Defense Intelligence Agency 's (DIA) spies, the National Security Agency 's (NSA) eavesdroppers, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency 's (NGA) imagery experts.1 In the end, those agencies collected precious little intelligence for the analysts to analyze, and much of what they did collect was either worthless or misleading. Finally, it was a failure to communicate effectively with policymakers; the Intelligence Community didn't adequately explain just how little good intelligence it had--or how much its assessments were driven by assumptions and inferences rather than concrete evidence.
Mold readings spark health concerns in New Orleans
Fred Pilot sent this along. This mold situation is predictable, and I question the wisdom of the local officials saying it's nothing to worry about. But given the abysmal record of New Orleans officials regarding public safety before and after Hurricane Katrina, maybe it's no surprise. They didn't even use their fleet of municipal and school buses to evacuate people from nursing homes and hospitals, and predictably a lot of those who died were in such locations. Does New Orleans get the prize for "Worst Municipal Government in the United States"?

NEW ORLEANS, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Take a flooded building in steamy New Orleans, and within days dark mold blooms on every surface, bringing the stench of decay to much of the hurricane-hit city. Authorities insist the mold is not dangerous to most people, while encouraging residents to wear masks and protective clothing when clearing their homes, especially with dusty work like removing drywall. But an environmental group, alarmed by readings that show mold spores at extraordinarily high levels, said on Wednesday that approach is not enough.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Wild pigs plague Fort Myers community

Thanks to Shu Bartholomew for this mouth-watering story. My son and I would love to have this problem in our neighborhood. We could fix it with the Ruger .44 Magnum rifle. As Ted Nugent says, "Kill it and grill it." Seriously, wild pigs are nasty. They are dangerous and they destroy the habitat by rooting up the ground. Most states have open season and no limit on them because once they get established they are a nuisance. But they do taste good, so let's look on the bright side here.

Dozens of wild pigs are prowling the lawns and streets of Cross Creek condominiums, prompting fearful homeowners to stay indoors after dark and keep a close eye on their pets..."I saw them coming down the cart path one day," she said. "They were about 500 pounds and there were five or six of them. Some were piglets. You just don't know what you will see in your back yard. We are taking a chance just walking on the cart path."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Ontario mom faces $2M libel suit for website about problems in neighbourhood
Can you say "SLAPP suit, Canadian style," eh?
In other news, I'm not able to post from my office because the new computer the university set me up with has now decided to display the blue screen of death instead of booting up. This is not supposed to happen anymore now that we have OSX, right?

CP) - A stay-at-home mother of three who created a website to alert the government about allegedly dangerous environmental problems in her southwestern Ontario neighbourhood is facing a $2 million libel suit by one of the developers she reported on. Louisette Lanteigne of Waterloo, Ont., said she grew sick of what she saw during construction in her new subdivision and what appeared to be questionable building practices and labour-code violations.