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Thursday, March 4, 2010


In case you were wondering, the health plan will get through Congress, and before the Easter recess. Here's what will happen:

1. As you know, both houses have already passed the bill.

2. A compromise version (mostly what the Senate produced) will be good enough to avoid the Senate cloture process.

3. Something called "reconciliation" will be utilized so that an up or down vote will occur. That is, a filibuster is prohibited because of established time restrictions, which were enacted in 1974. In the House, a bunch of Democrats will vote no, possibly because the final version will include abortion funding. In the Senate, a few Democrats will be allowed to vote no to preserve their re-election potential in the Fall. VP Biden will cast the vote to break the 50-50 tie, if it has to come to that.

4. President Obama will then sign the watered down bill around Easter.

5. Over the next six years, the plan will be strengthened.

Oh, what a gorgeous day in DC. The sun is out and the temperature went up to 48 F. I got a senior's card for the Metro, and the savings are substantial.

I had lunch today at PF Chang's China Bistro in Ballston with Phyliss Minn, formerly from Senator Inouye's office, and now with the National Science Foundation. I repeat myself, but she was probably the most important person responsible for much of the early funding for hydrogen, biofuels, ocean resources and wide range of other sustainable resource areas that came to Hawaii. She's contemplating, perhaps, again becoming a factor in these fields.

I then took the Metro to the Capitol, but instead of walking through the hallways of Congress as I once did, trekked to the Washington Monument, stopping first at the Natural History Museum (mostly to use their restroom), but touring their oceans exhibit and visiting the Hope Diamond (below, valued at around $300,000). Then a glance at the Jefferson Memorial and on to the Lincoln Memorial. A right turn to Foggy Bottom, ending at the Fairfax near Dupont Circle. I never before thought that this would be walkable. But when you carry a golf bag for 18 holes, this was a snap. It was cold and windy, but nothing compared to the minus 25 C wind chill of Helsinki.

The Dow Jones Industrials went up 47 to 10,444, with world markets mixed. Gold dropped $5/toz to $1132 and crude oil remains around $80/barrel.

Welcome country #140 to my site:


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The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia from the [British] South Africa Company in 1923. A 1961 constitution was formulated that favored whites in power. In 1965 the government unilaterally declared its independence, but the UK did not recognize the act and demanded more complete voting rights for the black African majority in the country (then called Rhodesia). UN sanctions and a guerrilla uprising finally led to free elections in 1979 and independence (as Zimbabwe) in 1980. Robert MUGABE, the nation's first prime minister, has been the country's only ruler (as president since 1987) and has dominated the country's political system since independence. His chaotic land redistribution campaign, which began in 2000, caused an exodus of white farmers, crippled the economy, and ushered in widespread shortages of basic commodities. Ignoring international condemnation, MUGABE rigged the 2002 presidential election to ensure his reelection. The ruling ZANU-PF party used fraud and intimidation to win a two-thirds majority in the March 2005 parliamentary election, allowing it to amend the constitution at will and recreate the Senate, which had been abolished in the late 1980s. In April 2005, Harare embarked on Operation Restore Order, ostensibly an urban rationalization program, which resulted in the destruction of the homes or businesses of 700,000 mostly poor supporters of the opposition. President MUGABE in June 2007 instituted price controls on all basic commodities causing panic buying and leaving store shelves empty for months. General elections held in March 2008 contained irregularities but still amounted to a censure of the ZANU-PF-led government with the opposition winning a majority of seats in parliament. MDC opposition leader Morgan TSVANGIRAI won the most votes in the presidential polls, but not enough to win outright. In the lead up to a run-off election in late June 2008, considerable violence enacted against opposition party members led to the withdrawal of TSVANGIRAI from the ballot. Extensive evidence of vote tampering and ballot-box stuffing resulted in international condemnation of the process. Difficult negotiations over a power-sharing government, in which MUGABE remained president and TSVANGIRAI became prime minister, were finally settled in February 2009, although the leaders have yet failed to agree upon many key outstanding governmental issues.

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