Last month, NASA reported it was the hottest January-July on record, along with a terrific analysis, “July 2010 — What Global Warming Looks Like,” which noted that 2010 is “likely” to be warmest year on record.
Speaking yesterday at Stop Islamization of America‘s rally at Ground Zero against the Park 51 Islamic cultural center, North Carolina GOP congressional candidate Ilario Pantano attempted to turn the event into an anti-Iran rally. Pantano also spun a bizarre conspiracy theory in which Imam Abdul Feisal Rauf, the leader of the Park 51 group, was in league with Iran to support the Gaza flotilla in late May that resulted in the killing of nine Turks — including one Turkish American — by Israeli commandos.
“Let’s take a moment to take a look at the person that wants to bring it [the Islamic center] here,” Pantano said, referring to Rauf. “Does anyone find it interesting that he’s also involved in the Free Gaza flotilla movement that had a made-for-TV action with Israel just as all of this was developing?”
PANTANO: But there was something else that happened. Because, and I want to stretch your imagination for a second, but every time Iran is about to face a nuclear sanction, from the EU or the UN, what happens? Something flares up with Israel! I wonder how that happens? I wonder in 2006 when Iran was about to face nuclear sanctions for their nuclear weapons program — yes folks, we want to give radical extremists nuclear weapons, it’s unconscionable to me — but remember back to 2006, a fight in Lebanon with the Israelis. Who provoked that? Iran! Iran! Think back to 2008, again, Iran about to face sanctions, who provoked attacks from Gaza, missile attacks on Israel? Iran. And radical Islam. That’s exactly right.
Ladies and gentlemen, in 2010 as Iran faced its toughest round of sanctions, we have the made-for-TV episode, with Israel rightfully trying to protect itself by maintaining a blockade to make sure murderous rockets don’t kill its innocent citizens, where did that come from? Imam Rauf is a member of the organization that has been behind all of that. We know that Iran has been complicit in all of that. I want to know where the money for this mosque is coming from!
Pantano’s rant was neatly emblematic of the entire event, stirring together half-truths with outright falsehoods into a stew of anti-Muslim paranoia. His claim that Imam Rauf is a member of the organization behind the Free Gaza movement is probably a reference to the Malaysian-based Perdana Global Peace Organization, a major donor to the flotilla campaign. Like much of the misinformation floating around about the Park 51 project, this claim originated with the New York Post. But a Cordoba Initiative FAQ page notes that Imam Rauf “has never been a member of this group,” explaining that “several years ago, Imam Feisal was invited to Malaysia, the most moderate Islamic country in the world, to participate in a Peace Conference sponsored by the Perdana Peace Group. He was one of the hundreds of speakers present.”
The idea that Iran was “complicit,” along with Rauf, in the Gaza flotilla is a strange new element, one that hasn’t been claimed elsewhere, let alone proven. And while it’s clear that Iran maintains supportive relationships with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, it’s simply false to present the aims and actions of the groups as identical to those of Iran, or to suggest that they have anything to do with Imam Rauf. Unless, of course, your purpose is to gin up paranoia and hatred against an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan.
Friday night I was standing outside a bar enjoying a slice of pizza from the DC Slices truck and noting that before the Fenty administration there were almost no good food trucks in DC, whereas now there are many. But, asked friends, can we really credit Fenty for this? Well, it’s not clear to me how much credit he deserves personally, but we can definitely credit a changing policy environment.
Vendors still must store their carts in a depot overnight and conform to all the fussy sidewalk regulations. And they still have to design their carts to be no more than seven feet long and 4 1/2 feet wide. “You can only do hot dogs with that [size] unless you’re very innovative,” says Gabe Klein, co-founder of On the Fly.
The depot requirement, however, may be the biggest reason our streets have become Wiener Central. There are three main depots in the District where vendors can park their carts, each licensed by the Department of Health. On the surface, the depots are there to provide cart operators with a clean storage space as well as security, trash removal and hot water. But depots are much more than that; they’re actually multimillion-dollar-a-year businesses in which owners not only rent spaces but also sell vendors chips, sodas, hot dogs and the rest of the fare that has become commonplace on the streets.
Later you learn about “under-the-table deals in which they must buy ice, propane tanks, towing services and food or face higher rents or even the threat of eviction.” But Sam Williams at the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs kept pushing for changes and improvements in the regulatory environment, and food cart entrepreneur Gabe Klein was tapped to head up the DC Department of Transportation.
Elections are unlikely to turn on things like streamlining food cart regulations or cleaning up depot kickback schemes, but this sort of thing matters to people’s everyday lives and it’s a reason it’s important for everyone to try to understand what’s happening in their community and get in touch with elected officials about it. There’s continuing political controversy in DC about whether or not the city government should try to accommodate food trucks, and I’m sure there are similar issues in cities across the country.
During her debate with Sen. Barbara Boxer last week, GOP Senate nominee Carly Fiorina was repeatedly asked whether she supports Proposition 23, a ballot initiative that would block implementation of AB32, the landmark California climate change law. Fiorina was non-committal at the debate, but two days later released a statement in support of Prop. 23:
I don’t particularly want to vouch for the methodology behind the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitiveness Report” since ordinal lists are a little silly and competitiveness is a bit of a weird concept but just think of this as a reflection of something international businessmen think:
Switzerland tops the overall ranking in The Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011 released by the World Economic Forum. The United States falls two places to fourth position, overtaken by Sweden (2nd) and Singapore (3rd). The Nordic countries continue to be well positioned in the ranking, with Sweden, Finland (7th) and Denmark (9th) among the top 10, and with Norway at 14th. Sweden overtakes the US and Singapore this year to be placed 2nd overall. The United Kingdom, after falling in the rankings over recent years, moves back up by one place to 12th position.
The rankings are calculated from both publicly available data and the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum together with its network of Partner Institutes (leading research institutes and business organizations) in the countries covered by the Report.
I think this basically supports what I was saying about why democracies are successful which is that “quality of government” factors tend to predominate over “policy” to such an extent that the global business class ends up giving the high-tax Nordics a pass. The exception that proves the rule (in the real sense of what that phrase means!) is Singapore, which is very unusual in having produced a effective low-corruption government in an authoritarian context.