CityBeat Blogs - New World Order <![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

If you care about politics, no doubt you’ve heard by now that birth control opponent Rick Santorum scored upset victories Tuesday in the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses and Missouri’s non-binding primary. No delegates were awarded in any of the races, but the showing further undermines presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s efforts to solidify his image as Republican frontrunner.

One of the best number crunchers around, Nate Silver at the FiveThirtyEight blog, says the latest results mean Romney will have a long slog to win the party’s nomination. Given history and voter demographics, Romney should’ve easily won in Minnesota and Colorado and the fact that he didn’t should serve as a warning for him, Silver adds.---

In fact, the current GOP nomination battle reminds Silver of similar situations faced by two weak presidential nominees, Republican Gerald Ford in 1976 and Democrat Walter Mondale in 1984. Both eventually won their party’s backing and Silver believes Romney will, too. (Left unsaid is that both Ford and Mondale lost in the general election.)

Rascally Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich skipped Tuesday’s contests in favor of campaigning right here in the Queen City. The ex-House Speaker pandered to the mostly white, religious crowd gathered at Price Hill Chili by saying mostly heated but meaningless things like, “No American president will ever again bow to a Saudi king.” (Oh, you mean like King Fahd's good friend, George W. Bush?) The Enquirer quoted people like David Vondenhuevel of Green Township, who sides with Gingrich because of his stances on abortion and the death penalty. (Hey, Mr. Vondenhuevel: Are you aware the Catholic Church and the Pope oppose the death penalty? Angry white men have selective memories.)

On a related note, Gingrich has roused the rabble in recent weeks by calling Barack Obama “the food stamp president.” According to USDA statistics, however, Dubya added about a half-million more people to the food stamp rolls than B-Rock has. Also, about two in five people in the program are employed — they just don’t make enough to feed their families. Chew on that, Newt.

Among the states with the most people using food stamps are South Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. Those are all places, we suspect, that contain a large number of Gingrich supporters. For shame.

In news that should make everyone happy regardless of their political persuasion, teenage pregnancies in the United States are at their lowest level in 40 years. According to data collected by the Guttmacher Institute, about 7 percent of U.S. teen girls between the ages of 15 to 19 were pregnant in 2008 — a decline from the high of more than 11 percent in 1990. Abortions among teen girls fell from a peak of more than 4 percent in 1988 to about 1.8 percent in 2008, the latest year for which data are available.

Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri said a threat by U.S. officials to pull $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic aid won’t deter his efforts to investigate the role of pro-democracy non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in his nation. Forty-three activists, 19 of them Americans, are to be put on trial for allegedly setting up groups without licenses and receiving illegal funding. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the charges are unfounded.

Locally, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. updated Cincinnati City Council Tuesday about progress at the Horseshoe Casino site. Nearly two weeks after an accident that injured 13 construction workers, the project is moving ahead. The mishap shouldn't affect the casino’s opening because construction was already ahead of schedule due to the milder winter, Dohoney said.

UrbanCincy reports that Cincinnati could soon became the largest U.S. city powered entirely by renewable energy sources. An aggregation deal being negotiated by City Council is expected to require that utility firms include quotes for both the cheapest electricity available and 100 percent renewable electricity. In other areas with similar deals, the renewable option has been the cheaper alternative.

A prosecutor in Martinsville, Ind., wants a judge to reverse his decision and prevent a 10-year-old girl from getting her piggy bank back. The bank was among the items confiscated in an illegal gambling raid, and the prosecutor says it might contain evidence. Here’s a novel concept: Look inside and see if it does; that should take about 30 seconds.

After several delays, it looks like a federal judge will finally sentence Mike Fox on March 12. Fox, an ex-state representative and former Butler County commissioner, agreed to a plea deal 10 months ago on charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and filing a false tax return. Sentencing has been delayed, however, because Fox’s attorney said the pol is depressed and too fat to go to prison. U.S. District Court Judge Sandra Beckwith told Fox Tuesday that he might benefit from time behind bars without the "access to excess calories." Oh, snap.

<![CDATA[Gorby Tells It Like It Is]]>

Although he will celebrate his 81st birthday in less than two months, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev still is an astute observer of the world’s political scene.

Unlike his political contemporaries Ronald Reagan (who is dead) and Margaret Thatcher (who is acutely ill), Gorbachev remains sharp and aware, and keeps making headlines. Ever since the U.S. financial crisis of 2007-08, Gorbachev has advocated that the United States needs a similar period of reforms, or “perestroika,” that he advanced in the Soviet Union beginning in 1986.---

In the current issue of The Nation magazine, Gorbachev writes an essay in which he posits that the world is less safe today, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, than it was 21 years ago. He blames the situation mostly on an aggressive, unrealistic U.S. foreign policy that he believes should be reformulated so it is based on the recognition of the world’s interconnectedness and interdependence.

The essay’s most interesting portion, however, is Gorbachev’s assessment of the United States’ hyper-militarized approach to problem-solving and its “might makes right” strategy, which he asserts backfires in dealing with nations like Iran.

“Policy-making and political thinking are still militarized. This is particularly true in the United States, which has not renounced the methods of pressure and intimidation,” Gorbachev wrote. “Every time it uses armed force against non–nuclear weapon states, countries such as Iran become more determined to acquire nuclear weapons.

“During the first decade of the twenty-first century US military budgets accounted for nearly half the world’s spending on armed forces,” he added. “Such overwhelming military superiority of one country will make the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons impossible to achieve. Judging by the weapons programs of the United States and a number of other countries, they are setting their sights on a new arms race.”

Of course, Gorbachev's views aren't likely to sit well with the many highly lucrative U.S. firms that profit from the militarized approach like General Electric, Boeing, Halliburton and scores of others.

<![CDATA[Looking Ahead to a 30-Year Energy War]]>

You might be unaware that there exists a website dedicated to syndicating alternative press news stories. Maybe you don't even know what this means. Basically, this website grabs the most left-leaning stories in all of the liberal media, offering a daily dose of how hugely screwed the world is. It can be a pretty enlightening read on a good day and a swift kick in the privates during less hopeful times. (See for yourself by joining its email list here or just keep following CityBeat's staff blog and we'll post links to the ones that scare us the most. ;)---

Today's news story titled “The New 30-Years' War: Who Will Be the Winners and Losers in the Great Global Energy Struggle to Come?” landed somewhere in the middle. Here's an excerpt:

The fate of nations, too, will be at stake as they place their bets on competing technologies, cling to their existing energy patterns, or compete for global energy sources, markets, and reserves. Because the acquisition of adequate supplies of energy is as basic a matter of national security as can be imagined, struggles over vital resources -- oil and natural gas now, perhaps lithium or nickel (for electric-powered vehicles) in the future -- will trigger armed violence.

On one hand, the U.S. will have ample opportunity to invest in the technologies it believes will be thrive during the scary, scary future. But, on the other hand, companies such as BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell will have their dirty hands, faces and words in the discussion, probably hoping to squeeze the last bit of milk out of the dying coal and oil cows. (Let them die in peace, plz.)

This article offers five pages' worth of insight on the issue. Feel free to add anything interesting it says after Page 1, because I'm now looking at a headline that reads “How I Found Myself a Little Too Dependent on Booze and Xanax” and I'm assuming I'm going to have to read the whole thing.