Topsy-turvy world: Times of prosperity lead to park cutbacks?

I’m just trying to figure out how it is that, when everything is supposed to be going so well economically, the Bush Administration can’t take care of or even fund one of the more popular national parks, the only one with an active volcano in the lower 48 states….

Future shaky for visitor center | TheNewsTribune.com | Tacoma, WA:

The Coldwater Ridge visitor center at Mount St. Helens could be closed or its operations scaled back after 2007 as the national monument sets its priorities amid federal budget cuts.

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest staff is assessing recreational facilities, including those at the National Volcanic Monument, to determine which will have priority for dwindling dollars. While forest officials said the visitor center will be open next season, they can’t guarantee its long-term future.

Bush administration budget proposals cut recreation funding for national forests in Washington and Oregon for fiscal year 2007 to $21.9 million, down 15 percent from 2005.

Fifteen percent reductions? Oh, I see, we’re supposed to sell the national forest for its own good…. Because $21.9 million to manage 15,827,985 acres of national forest land in these two states reveals just how paltry our attention to ecology really is—that’s $1.38 an acre for maintenance and services. That’s some serious ecology presidency.

No forest left behind.

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Propaganda wars are unwinnable

Global Guerrillas: PROPAGANDA WARS:

Jon Robb provides a brief but complete explanation that anyone can follow about why wars built on propaganda cannot be won.

Let me add my summary: Unless you welcome open discussion of the real facts of a war, you will never be adjusting the fighting of that war in response to reality, endlessly repeating mistakes that the enemy can take advantage of.

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Even after 18 months, little preparedness for H5N1 bird flu

Docs fear world not ready for bird flu pandemic:

“I hope H5N1 won’t be able to acquire transmissibility because this is an extraordinary quagmire,” Robert Webster, a world-class expert on the virus, said at the annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy meeting this week in San Francisco.

“Don’t become complacent. We need to put into place every possible way” to stop this virus from transmitting from human to human, he said….

“Like the Spanish flu, if (the bird flu is) going to acquire transmissibility, it has been estimated it will take something like 10 critical mutations,” Webster said.

What’s troubling to me as the former editor of ZDY2K, which was about the potential problem with some computing systems ability to transition to the 21st century (grossly overblown and I had to try to debunk doomsday scenarios constantly), is that the ads appearing H5N1 stories like this one on Physorg.com, are playing the over-prepare card already. Folks are giving up on government and the market to provide a response to bird flu.

It’s times like this that government—even if most conservatives are misarchists who hate government and the idea that it can work—can have a huge impact. And the U.S. could certainly use some good-saving-lives PR. If we would just put a lot of money to work to develop a vaccine in an open-data environment, it would not be necessary to scare half the world’s population into thinking it’s every man, woman and child for themselves.

This is one of those times when government should believe it can create a solution. It could do it by guaranteeing to buy all the vaccine needed to inoculate people in hot zones or by inventing the vaccine in government labs and giving it away after paying for production.

Seriously, if the United States wanted to earn some global karma to make up for all the wasted good will after 9/11, eradicating bird flu would be a high-yield project. So, get on with it, already. And gaining a little more faith in Americans deciding to work together through government wouldn’t be the worst thing to achieve, since the more we work together through whatever organizations lend themselves to particular projects, the better we will be as nation.

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