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Keven Rudd sure doesn’t seem to be messing around. He’s been talking for a while about emphasizing three E’s while in office– Economy, Education and Environment. Only hours after getting into office, he has already ratified the Kyoto Protocol to limit greenhouse emissions. Since China and India wouldn’t have faced any limits, I can understand the previous government’s objections, but it’s still good news that Australia’s on board.

“Australia’s official declaration today that we will become a member of the Kyoto Protocol is a significant step forward in our country’s efforts to fight climate change domestically – and with the international community,” Mr Rudd said.

He said the Federal Government would do everything in its power to help Australia meet its Kyoto obligations, including setting a target to reduce emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Australia Ratifies Kyoto Protocol
photo by Reuters

The remarkable thing about this clip isn’t that some guy on TV was so mind-bogglingly ignorant. It’s the advice given by the audience.

At PR’s request, here are a couple videos of Australia’s new Prime Minister speaking Chinese. This first one is a CCTV interview (part 1 of 3), in which we get to hear him speak at length in Chinese.

This second video is bit harder to make any sense of. It’s a comedian making fun of Rudd.

This, from the BBC:

Mr Rudd will focus on education, environment and the economy
Australia’s Prime Minister-elect, Kevin Rudd, has announced the make-up of his new Labor government.

He appointed Julia Gillard as deputy PM and education minister, and a former rock star, Midnight Oil singer Peter Garrett, as environment minister.

Penny Wong becomes the country’s first Asian-born minister, with responsibility for climate change.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party has elected a new leader to replace John Howard, defeated in last week’s vote.

BBC: Australia’s Rudd unveils cabinet

That guy, the singer, Peter Garrett, has been chosen to be Australia’s new Environment Minister.

Stupid in America is a 20/20 investigation into the failures of K-12 schooling in the US. John Stossel interviews a variety of teachers, students, parents and administrators in the US and in Belgium. It’s particularly interesting for me because I’ve experienced it from so many sides. I’ve been at all kinds of schools, from public to Catholic, to one that had merit-based admissions. As a teacher, I’ve taught calculus and freshman physics in the US and more recently EFL here in Taiwan. It certainly doesn’t pay as well as my previous programming work, but it is interesting, and I enjoy it enough that I’ve thought about working as a public school teacher in the US after retiring.

I’ve seen some of the policy debates as well. In my high school district, a group of parents actually sued the school system and made them abandon a program called Direction 2000, that many considered an ill-advised attempt at political indoctrination rather than true education. It also turned out that the father of one of my good friends in middle school was the senator who proposed our voucher system. Anyway, it’s an interesting video… despite the Europeans claiming we’re stupid.

One final thought I’d like to share is that I see the school system in Taiwan as one of the biggest reasons to stay here long enough to have my own kids. Despite the complaints I hear from parents about the public schools here, the achievements I see in my nine and ten year-old students are so far ahead of what my peers in the US were doing at that age that it’s almost shocking. Especially in math, art and languages, the difference is stark.

Update: Michael Turton has written a response to this post.

Related Post: The New York Teacher of the Year is Against School

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama laid out list of political shortcomings he sees in the Bush administration but said he opposes impeachment for either President George W. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney.

“I think you reserve impeachment for grave, grave breaches, and intentional breaches of the president’s authority,” he said.

USA Today.com- Obama: Impeachment is not acceptable

At this point I’m wondering what Bush or Cheney would have to do in order for Obama to consider their actions a “grave breach” or “intentional breach of the president’s authority”. I guess lying to Congress, lying to the UN, breaking the Geneva Conventions, illegally firing federal prosecutors, claiming the authority to declare martial law, revoking habeas corpus and torturing people who haven’t even had a chance to see a lawyer doesn’t cut it. Would Obama draw the line at gas chambers?

Or, is he hoping to inherit those authoritarian powers rather than abolish them?


Thomas Jefferson was already onto this problem nearly 200 years ago. In 1819, he said: “Experience has already shown that the impeachment the Constitution has provided is not even a scarecrow.” Those who seek power are the last to condemn their authoritarian predecessors who extend its reach.

According to the Washington Bureau Chief, the Senate has passed the “Lieberman Amendment” on Senate Bill 1547: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. With a final vote of 97-0, the bill is passed and the possibility of another war has just inched forward.

WASHINGTON – The Senate Wednesday put aside a growing schism over the conduct of the Iraq war and rallied around a strongly-worded warning to Iran authored by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman.

The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (H.R. 1585), passed 397-27.


Update: The record of the Senate vote is now online here. Only three senators were absent from the vote, Brownback (R-KS), Johnson (D-SD), and Vitter (R-LA). Everyone else in the senate, including presidential candidates Clinton, McCain and Obama voted for the amendment.

Further commentary available here.

Unsurprisingly, Ron Paul was one of the few brave souls to vote against this bill in the House. Earlier this year, he publicly denounced the growing military rhetoric against Iran:

Unfortunately, the war-mongers are far more numerous, and the drum beat continues to get louder.

Update: According to the L.A. Times, most of the foreign insurgents in Iraq come from Saudi Arabia, not Iran.

Update: The house has passed a bill to cling on the United Nations Security Council to charge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the United Nations Charter because of his “calls for the destruction of the State of Israel”. It passed 411-2; only Paul and Kucinich voted against it.

Like many other Americans, I’ve been sorely disappointed with what the Democrats have done since regaining control of Congress in the 2006 elections. Bush hasn’t been impeached, violence in Iraq is increasing, and the illegal federal wiretapping program continues. Somewhat similarly to the Republican primaries, only one candidate in the Democratic primaries is speaking out against the war in Iraq- Mike Gravel.

Gravel: those presidential candidates that are standing up with me, they’ve got the power to end this war and they’re not doing anything about it. And that in my mind is immoral, because as we we’re talking then, as we’re talking now, George, human beings are dying

He was one of the first voices of dissent against the war in Vietnam, and at one point, he held a one-man filibuster against the draft. Though unpopular at the the time, it does add some weight to his denunciations of hypocrisy in the current Democratic elite. Unfortunately for Gravel, he is gaining little traction online, or off.

Stephanopoulos interviews the long-shots:
Mike Gravel’s interview starts at (7:58)


ABC News: This Week, July 8th
continue reading…

Ron Paul is the undisputed “internet candidate”, but he’s not the only one to get a boost from Youtube. Barack Obama has also been able to turn the net to his advantage, largely due to his mild anti-war stance. Despite the vast number of political connections and pre-built fundraising infrastructure that Hillary Clinton has at her disposal, Obama has beaten her out as the top fund raiser. The internet is almost certainly the reason.

Vote Different
This ad is a re-mix of Apple’s famous anti-IBM ad played during the 1984 superbowl. Now, Hillary is “big brother”.

“I Got a Crush…On Obama”
This one is a music video.

While Obama doesn’t have nearly the number of videos out there, his popular videos are absolutely huge. They are also very, very well produced. For the most part, they focus on feelings, not political issues. This may be because Obama’s platform is so similar to Clinton’s.


Don’t tread on me
This video is completely about the issues, and is filled with debate clips and quotations.

Stop Dreaming
This video showcases Ron Paul’s most controversial ideas, once again with factual information.

I want Ron Paul
This is the only purely “emotional” Ron Paul video I managed to turn up. It is very low-budget compared to any of Obama’s. It is overflowing with conviction, though.

All in all, Ron Paul’s videos look more like a genuine grass-roots attempt. There are no sophisticated graphics, some words are misspelled, and each has a smaller reach. There are thousands of them, though! In total, Ron Paul’s Youtube channel has 19,887 subscribers, leaving Obama in a distant second with 8,736. No other candidate tops 5,000 yet.

Will 2008 be remembered as the “Youtube Election”? I don’t think broadband internet usage is widespread enough in the US for it yet, but the Youtube effect can’t be ignored. Ron Paul, an incredible long-shot with very little campaign funding to begin with has harnessed the same sort of viral internet marketing that has built so many online businesses over the past few years. He has actually made the transition from the “answer to a trivia question”, as one commenter put it, to broadcast TV coverage.

Ron Paul on The Daily Show with John Stewart

Ron Paul on Tucker Carlson
The Galveston Flood and Hurricane Katrina


Ron Paul On Real Time With Bill Maher (3-30-07)
A tough interview. Bill Maher is very skeptical of Ron Paul.


Bill Maher Defends Ron Paul’s Debate Position
Bill Maher asks why no Democrats have the spine to stand up to the Neocons on the war.


Ron Paul On Real Time With Bill Maher (05/25/07)
Maher is now thoroughly won over. Ben Affleck also present.


Ron Paul on Colbert Report 6/13/07
It’s not easy to for Colbert’s character to decide what to think.

By the time he made it to Colbert’s studios, it was clear that Ron Paul’s web-roots support was starting to translate into people on the streets in the real world.


Update: A commenter has called my attention to another video that looks about as mainstream as it gets
“The View” with Joy Behar and Rosie O’Donnell