30 September 2007

Ukraine's 2007 Election



2006 election results, shown on the map above from Wikipedia, show the regional divide in Ukraine's political sentiments

Ukraine's 2007 elections (background at Wikipedia) are over, although the counting is not.

Ahead of the election, leading parties swapped vote-rigging allegations. But preliminary findings by more than 3,000 observers ruled out widespread violations.


My colleague, Anne McGihon, is among those 3,000.

The results are complicated, however, which means that relatively minor irregularities have the potential to swing the balance of power in the former Soviet Republic:

Orange Parties (pro-West)
Ms. Yulia Tymoshenko (opposition BYuT leader) 30-32%
Mr. Viktor Yushchenko (President, Our Ukraine Party leader) 13-14%
Subtotal: 43-46%

Current Government (pro-Russia)
Mr. Viktor Yanukovich (Prime Minister, Regions Party leader) 34-35%
Communist (in coalition with Regions party) 5%
Subtotal: 39%-40%

Others
Lytvyn's Block 4%
Fifteen Minor Parties With No Seats 7%-11% (a 3% total is requires to get a seat)
Against All 3%

Mr Yushchenko called elections early in a bid to gain ground over Mr Yanukovich, his bitter rival since the 2004 Orange Revolution. The president set aside his differences with Ms Tymoshenko, his former ally, and their parties mounted a joint campaign. . . The two Orange parties are likely to have more seats than the Regions-Communists alliance.


If Volodymyr Lytvyn's bloc sides with the Orange parties, the results won't be close and the pro-Western Orange parties will take power, validating President Yushchenko's gambit of calling new elections. But, if Lytvyn's bloc sides with the Regions-Communist bloc, this election is very close, making even minor election disputes important, but four different sets of exit polls all show the Orange parties with a slight lead (as little as four seats out of 450) even then.

Lytvyn's bloc is made up of two allied parties. The lead party was in coalition with the pro-Russian Regions party in 2002, but another party in that coalition has hence joined the pro-Western Orange grouping. In 2006 it ran celebrity candidates but failed to win seats in parliament. As head of the party Lytvyn is a king maker (which got him his previous seat as parliamentary speaker), but he is something of a controversial cypher politically.

It is also worth noting that despite the fact that Ukraine has a proportional representation system, that the failure of minor parties to form larger blocs has had an effect big enough to swing the election. Even a 3% threshold to get seats is enough to cause them to act as spoilers for their political allies.

Why is Ukraine so divided? These observations were offered during the 2004 Orange Revolution:

[T]he "blue" regions are overwhelmingly Orthodox and Russian, while the "yellow" regions are Catholic (outright or Eastern-rite) and anti-Russian. Indeed, some territories - the Donbas and Crimea, for instance - were Russian lands given to Ukraine by Communists.


A division of the country was seriously mulled in 2004, but talk of division appears to have subsided since then. While there is grumbling about the election, there are signs that the situation is stablizing:

“There will be emotions, but these will be just episodes. I’m sure that the political community will find mutual understanding,” Yushchenko said.

Tymoshenko’s message was the same: “I’m convinced that these elections will end the crisis.”

[After the March 2006 parliamentary elections] Yanukovych sought to change his image, casting himself as a democrat and preaching compromise and stability. He eased his affiliation with Russia and underlined his push for Ukraine’s integration into Europe. . . . Unlike the 2004 vote when the Kremlin backed Yanukovych, Russia is staying away from the parliamentary election. . . . Yanukovych grudgingly agreed to Sunday’s vote, but has hinted he would accept only one outcome: his victory.

Yanukovych has accused Yushchenko and Tymoshenko’s parties of preparing widespread falsifications, and warned he could organize protests similar to those during the Orange Revolution. He said that his party would not accept an “unlawful” outcome.


The fate of Ukraine still relies on the extent that the result is seen domestically and abroad to be credible, despite evidence that some irregularities have taken place, although not necessarily irregularities serious enough to sway the result.

UPDATE: The Socialist Party of Ukraine, a moderate party leaning towards the Orange Parties, but not above changing sides to be in the winning coalition looks likely to pass the 3% threshold in early election returns. But, the two main Orange parties look likely to secure a majority on their own in early returns. This could diminish the role of Lytvyn as king maker, but could also complicate matters because the Socialists are close enough to the 3% threshold that their percentage could be subject to plausible disputes -- whether their precentage is above or below 3% could significantly impact the outcome.

Before The Big Bang?

Modern physics has some warts. One of the biggest is the absence of a quantum theory of gravity. General relativity is fundamentally inconsistent with quatum mechanics as currently forumulated.

No one doubts that general relativity is an extremely accurate way of modeling even subtle aspects of of cosmos. No one doubts that quantum mechanics delivers accurate descriptions of nuclear and electromagnetic forces.

On the whole, general relativity is more troubled in practical applications. The gravitation constant is one of the the least precisely known of the fundamental physical constants. And, general relativity isn't sufficient in and of itself to explain observed cosmology. The notions of dark matter and dark energy must be introduced to resolve, even then, imperfectly, the discrepencies observed.

On the other hand, quantum mechanics uses a basically Newtonian conception of the nature of time space, modified by special relativity (called Minkowski space), but not by general relativity. We know that general relativity exists, and therefore know that the current model of quantum mechanics is incorrect.

One of the main approaches to reconciling general relativity and quantum physics is string theory, which is itself a generalization of the notion inherent in the gaps in the standard model of particle physics that two key particles, at least, are missing from the model. One is the graviton, which is analogous to the photon for the electromagentic force, the W and Z particles for the weak nuclear force, and the gluon for the strong nuclear force. The other is the Higgs boson, which would explain inertial mass. These models generally require far more than the usually 3+1 dimensions of space and time.

One of the leading schools of theoretical physics, other than string theory, is loop quantum gravity and some related theories. Unlike, string theory, in loop quantum gravity, general relativity effects arise from the nature of time-space itself, and there is no graviton, nor are there true singularities. Instead there is a quantization of space-time geometery itself. Black holes and the Big Bang are extreme phenomena in loop quantum gravity, but remain finite. The models suggest that a four dimensional time-space may be an "emergent" property of the underlying quantum geometrical rules.

The lack of singularities in LQG has spawned an article in a respected scientific journal discussing what this implies for the period before the Big Bang. The article's conclusion states:

As a general concept, this presents an attractive new universe picture, combining perpetual cyclic models and linear ones. A linear model starts at a finite time in the past, whereas a cyclic model exists forever, be it for several cycles or only for one contracting phase followed by an expanding one. We described a theory whose evolution never stops, being cyclic in this sense. But some traces of each cycle are irretrievably lost shortly after transiting from collapse to expansion. Complete predictions and explanations of observations can only be made for the finite part starting after the Big Bang. An eternal recurrence of the same is prevented by intrinsic cosmic forgetfulness. This may seem like a return to the traditional Big Bang picture, where speaking of 'before the Big Bang' is meaningless. But it is more subtle: in this traditional picture, the Big Bang is preceded by a singularity where the theory breaks down. The singularity is a theoretical limitation, rather than a physical beginning. Quantum gravity as used here can provide solutions extending through the classical singularity. And yet, limitations to observations of some, but not all, pre-Big Bang properties exist that are now derived within the theory, not as limitations to the theory.


In other words, in LQG, the Big Bang is not "the beginning" but merely the beginning of the current cycle of physical existence that wiped out most evidence of what came before it.

As an educated layman who has watched the debate play out for some time, I have to say that LQG looks more promising than string theory right now, despite the fact that string theory remains a majority position in the academy and is far better funded. LQG has made a great many strides in the last decade or so in refining what its theory can do. It isn't clear that string theory can break out of Minkowski space to solve its own problems as elegantly.

On the other hand, both string theory and LQG are rather short on testable predictions that can distinguish the two. Extrapolating from microscopic quantum phenomena to macroscopic observable phenomena is not a straight forward affair.

LQG stomps to death many of the pet theories of science fiction. Its lack of singularities makes notions like wormholes and extradimensions impossible. On the other hand, it is profound in another sense, with many versions of LQG seeing matter as essentially a contorted piece of time-space itself. It also isn't clear how LQG impacts some of the apparently non-local aspects of quantum mechanics (sometimes called, inaptly, quantum teleportation), that most defy a conventional causal notion of the nature of reality.

Save Civic Center

Michael Paglia at Westword states the obvious:

The committee made the decision because of the undeniable overcrowding in the courts and because of the perceived shortcomings of the Colorado History Museum portion of the CHS headquarters. Then, for no good reason, the committee said the block should be used to construct a proper courthouse while the CHS should look elsewhere for a site.

So, the CHS began scouting for alternative sites. But before I discuss the spots being considered, I need to say that the best place for it is right where it is. It's the Supreme Court that should look elsewhere. After all, the CHS actually attracts the public at large and has a crossover audience with the library and the art museum, while the courts only attract people involved in cases there.

Sadly, that won't happen, and more than a half-dozen alternate sites have been considered for the CHS, with only three still in contention: a parking lot at Colfax and Lincoln, a dark horse that I won't even discuss; the former Denver permit center, which I will address in a moment; and the park, which is currently the front-runner.


Paglia is right. There is no compelling reason whatsoever for the appellate courts or administrative offices of the Colorado court system to continue to hold onto the prime real estate they have today. The state capital has few day to day dealings with it, by design, as a result of the separation of powers. Any place within bike messenger distance of 17th Street will do, and quite frankly, a more remote location might even convince the appellate courts to adopt the e-filing system that most of the state's trial courts use, something it should have done years ago. There is no reason for a state as physically large as Colorado to do otherwise in the only state courts that routinely do business with attorneys all over the state.

Leave the Colorado History Museum where it is (with a new and improved building), move the state's appellate courts elsewhere, and leave Civic Center alone.

Everybody close to the issue knows why Civic Center is the repeated target of assaults on its integrity. It is a gathering place for Denver's vagrants and outcasts. But, the solution to those problems is not to build new buildings there. The solutions are to deal with homelessness (which on other fronts the Hickenlooper administration has done a passable job of trying to do) and to inhabit the park.

28 September 2007

2500 Posts

Actually, it's hard to tell, because I'm not sure that the blogger counters agree. But, close enough. Blogging is still fun. Between a hundred and two hundred people read a day, some regulars, others one time visitors who get here via search engines.

The Google rankings of some of my posts on particular searches continue to amaze me. How in the world did I get to be one of the foremost authorities in the world on a hodgepodge of subjects according to Google (and I do mean the world, a healthy share of my readers are abroad)?

At any rate, have a good weekend.

National Religiosity and Social Indicators

Hell's Handmaiden highlights an academic study published in the Journal of Religion and Society by Gregory S. Paul in 2005, comparing more religious countries with less religious countries, and the comparison flatters the secular ones. The United States is the most religious prosperous democracy in the world.

How does national religiosity correlate with crime?

A few hundred years ago rates of homicide were astronomical in Christian Europe and the American colonies (Beeghley; R. Lane). In all secular developed democracies a centuries long-term trend has seen homicide rates drop to historical lows (Figure 2)…. Despite a significant decline from a recent peak in the 1980s (Rosenfeld), the U.S. is the only prosperous democracy that retains high homicide rates, making it a strong outlier in this regard (Beeghley; Doyle, 2000). Similarly, theistic Portugal also has rates of homicides well above the secular developed democracy norm. Mass student murders in schools are rare, and have subsided somewhat since the 1990s, but the U.S. has experienced many more (National School Safety Center) than all the secular developed democracies combined.


How does a nation's religiosity correlate with sexually transmitted diseases?

Although the late twentieth century STD epidemic has been curtailed in all prosperous democracies (Aral and Holmes; Panchaud et al.), rates of adolescent gonorrhea infection remain six to three hundred times higher in the U.S, than in less theistic, pro-evolution secular developed democracies (Figure 6)…. The U.S. also suffers from uniquely high adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, which are starting to rise again as the microbe’s resistance increases (Figure 7). The two main curable STDs have been nearly eliminated in strongly secular Scandinavia.


How does a nation's religiosity correlate with abortion?

Increasing adolescent abortion rates show positive correlation with increasing belief and worship of a creator, and negative correlation with increasing non-theism and acceptance of evolution; again rates are uniquely high in the U.S. (Figure 8). Claims that secular cultures aggravate abortion rates (John Paul II) are therefore contradicted by the quantitative data. Early adolescent pregnancy and birth have dropped in the developed democracies (Abma et al.; Singh and Darroch), but rates are two to dozens of times higher in the U.S. where the decline has been more modest (Figure 9).


Correlation is not necessarily causation. But, a factor that isn't correlated isn't a leading cause of something. While this data doesn't prove that national religiosity causes bad social outcomes in the United States, it does show that national religiosity isn't a leading cause of good outcomes. If it was, secular countries would have poor results, while religious ones would have good ones.

Colorado Agriculture Irrelevant

Farming and ranching account for just 0.6% of Colorado personal income. Most of the decline took place between 1973, when it made up 7%, and 1978, when it dropped to about 1.5%. Agriculture peaked again, around 1990 at about 3% of the state economy, but has dropped more or less steadily since then to its current levels.

The state, which has a population of roughly 4.6 million people, had 31,000 farms in 2005 with an average 1,007 acres. Nationally, a quarter of people in farm occupations account for about 97% of U.S. farm production, although it is hard to tell if Colorado is representative in this respect. Moreover, as technology grows more sophisticated, the productivity of farmers goes up, which leads to bigger farms with fewer farmers and fewer farm voters.

Almost according to forecasts from the state demographer, every rural front range county except Morgan (county seat Fort Morgan) and Logan (county seat Sterling) will see its share of the state's population decline in the census in 2010, 2020 and 2030. The same forecast applies to most of the San Luis Valley. Most of the state's growth is expected to occur in the I-25 corridor (although Denver, Jefferson County, Boulder and Arapahoe County, all home to many landlocked central cities and first ring suburbs, will also decline in their share of the state's population), and in countries with tourism and mining driven economies.

"Hunting, fishing and wildlife watching generated $2.4 billion in revenue in Colorado in 2006, according to a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey."

In 2004, crops generated $1.3 billion in revenues in the state (roughly the same as 2003), while livestock generated $4.2 billion in revenues ($3.6 billion in 2003). Corn is the state's leading crop (as opposed to livestock product) in revenue terms, producing $316 million of revenue from 950,000 acres planted in corn in 2005.

Colorado farmers and ranchers combined had $1.3 billion in net income in 2004 ($0.85 billion in 2003), and in 2004, $221 million of that came from government payments.

The decline of agriculture in economic clout has a number of consequences. One is that in battles between tourism uses of water and agricultural uses, tourism is gaining the upper hand. Another is that it is just a matter of time before agriculture gives way to development in the West. As I noted at dkospedia, citing figures from sources current when I wrote it in October of 2004:

Urban users of water pay tens times a much per gallon as agricultural water users for water. . . . [I]n Colorado, 90% of water goes to agriculture, 7% to residential users, 2% to industrial uses, 1% to "stock water" and less than 0.5% to commercial users. . . . The two biggest demands that municipal water users in the arid West place on water are lawn watering (54% of residential water use goes towards landscaping) and watering golf courses (1 golf course used the same amount of water as 750 residential households, which is more than 2,000 people). Major industrial and commercial users (factories and car washes mostly) use a significant share of the rest of urban water. Other domestic and commercial uses (dish washing, showers, drinking, toilets, etc.) are a fairly small share of total water use in urban areas in the arid West. . . . [I]n many Western states the tourism value of fishing and canoeing exceeds the economic contribution to the state that comes from irrigated farming, the dominant use of water in the West. For example, in Colorado, agriculture contributes $700 million of net income each year to the state's economy, while boating, fishing and hunting contribute $1,050 million of net income each year to the state's economy.


Thus, there is considerable room for Colorado to develop recreational water uses and urban growth at the expense of agriculture, blue grass lawns and golf. If almost all Colorado water were used for urban uses, and landscaping were dramatically cut back, Colorado has enough water to support about 80-90 million residents, and if Colorado's urban development continued at that breakneck pace (which few people believe that it will for reasons unrelated to water), the economic clout of the urban economy would be more than sufficient to buy out agricultural water users.

Even without population growth, urban water users are increasingly going to grow tired of scrimping on their water use with low flow toilets and buckets to reuse shower water to water their house plants, when none of those sacrifices would be necessary if agricultural water users could make their irrigation operations just 5% more efficient. The state constitution protects rural water user rights, but farmers don't have the votes to win an urban v. rural ballot issue battle, if the state constitution became a barrier, and the federal constitution, while it protects contract and property rights against arbitrary state action, is hardly an ironclad defense against regulation of those rights.

Various other factors also don't bode well for the future of crop farming in Colorado. Farm subsidies are growing increasingly unpopular. Global warming means that Colorado's farm country is likely to grow more arid. Rising oil prices make fertilizer and fuel and lubricants for farm operations more costly. Colorado's recent crack down of immigration may not have reduced public expenditures any, but they appear to have put pressure on the agricultural labor force. Rising crop prices driven by ethanol production are the only saving grace in the agriculture sector's future.

Also, government payments to farmers for select cash crops are the most obvious form of government subsidy to farmers, and Colorado, generally speaking, has a pretty small share of them, because neither livestock nor fruits and vegetables, both of which make up fairly large shares of the Colorado agricultural economy, receive direct subsidies of this kind. Corn is the main crop that generates direct crop payments in the state. But, there are other less direct government subsidies for the rural economy. At the federal level, BLM grazing permits are made available at probably less than a fair market rate and livestock indirectly benefit from crop payments through cattle feed. At the state level, there are large per student state subsidies of many rural schools (more than double what Denver receives in some cases), favored treatment of agriculture for the purposes of sales taxes and property taxes, state expenditures for water projects that largely benefit rural users, subsidies for rural health care, and state funding for the rural road system are among the subsidies. There is no organized campaign to dismantle the web of programs put in place in an age when agriculture was more central to Colorado's economy, but it also have increasingly few political defenders.

Nobody denies that food as a necessary part of any economy. But, the question is whether Colorado's arid plains are a sensible place to grow it with irrigated agriculture. Increasingly, agriculture is looking like an area where the state is competitively disadvantaged.

Iowa 2008

There are four months until the Iowa Caucuses, give or take. The latest Strategic Vision, LLC poll:

600 Likely GOP Caucus Goers:
* Mitt Romney 30%
* Rudy Giuliani 17% (rising)
* Fred Thompson 13% (falling)
* Mike Huckabee 8%
* John McCain 6% (falling)
* Undecided 13%

"No other Republican candidate received more than 5 percent[.]"

600 Likely Democratic Caucus Goers:
* Hillary Clinton 24% (rising)
* John Edwards 22% (falling)
* Barack Obama 21%
* Bill Richardson 13%
* Undecided 14%

"No other candidate received more than 4 percent[.]"

On the Democratic side, delegates are allocated proportionately in each Congressional District among those receiving at least 15% support.

Hat Tip to Tancredo Watch.

And on the sidebar:

"Among Republicans, 53 percent said they favored a withdrawal from Iraq in the next six months, and 84 percent of Democrats agreed."

27 September 2007

Third World Tax Policy

In developing countries . . . A modestly progressive tax on wage income and a comprehensive low-rate tax on capital income (at both corporate and individual levels) is likely the most one can or should aim for in such countries. Along these lines, one apporach for a personal income tax for developing countries would be one with a roughly equal constant marginal rate imposed upon a broad schedular base. Such a tax (coupled with a corporate income tax at the same rate) together with a broad based VAT, appropriate excise taxes, more use of local and benefit financing, and above all, improved expenditure policy, seems likely to provide many developing countries with much firmer footing for redistributive policies than the fifty-year-old model of the one-size-fits-all highly progressive personal income tax imposed upon a comprehensive base.


From here.

26 September 2007

Colorado Politicians and Political Races

Federal Races

Democrat Angie Paccione has dropped out of the race in the 4th Congressional District against sex obsessed conservative Republican Marilyn Musgrave, for a business venture. Paccione's race against Musgrave (and Reform party candidate Eric Eidsness) left Musgrave with a smaller percentage of votes cast for her than in any other Congressional race in the country. This leaves Ken Salazar staffer Betsy Markey and Republican turned Reform candidate turned Democrat Eric Eidsness in the Democratic primary for the seat. I would be stunned if Eidsness beat Markey in that race. Markey's Salazar pedigree should serve her well in the general election in the conservative 4th Congressional District, although her fight for name recognition could be a tough first hurdle for her.

With Paccione's departure from the 4th CD race, the only high profile primaries fights among Democrats in Colorado will be in the Presidential race and in the 2nd Congressional District, which is being vacated by Mark Udall in his run for U.S. Senate.

Republicans look like they will be enduring a nasty primary in the 5th CD, which includes Colorado Springs, despite the fact that there is an incumbent Republican running. There is no sign that Republican Tom Tancredo will set aside his race for the safely Republican 6th Congressional District while he runs for President (an almost certainly futile effort). I'm not aware of a strong Democratic challenger in either the 5th CD or the 6th CD after valiant blogosphere supported runs by strong candidates failed dismally in 2006 in each of those races, although Democrats would be wise to give each race their best shot in any case, to force the incumbents to defend themselves with their time and money.

No serious Republican contenders have emerged in any of the Congressional seats now held by Democrats (the 1st in Denver, the 2nd in Boulder and the Mountains, the 3rd in Pueblo and the Western Slope, and the 7th in Northern Denver suburbs).

Republican Bob Shaffer seems to have cleared the GOP U.S. Senate primary in Colorado, just as Mark Udall has on the Democratic side. The leading Colorado Republicans seem to all be lining up with Mitt Romney in their Presidential nomination race.

State House Comings and Goings

Mike Cerbo's move to the AFL-CIO and vacancy committee replacement by Mark Ferrandino as representative from House District 2 is old new. Cerbo's brothers and sisters in solidarity are no doubt relieved today that the UAW strike of GM is over.

Anne McGihon (D-HD 3) is currently monitoring elections in the Ukraine (I provide some copy editing for her Blackberry delivered reports, while several other Anne fans make the multiple technical details work).

My State Senator, Jennifer Veiga, made a trip to the Israel and IIRC, Palestine as well, on behalf of a group working for peace there earlier this year. She returned safely.

Democratic State Representative Joe Rice is headed for the sandbox (i.e. Iraq) where he has been called for another tour of duty this fall. Littleton Republican, State Senator Steve Ward, is already in Iraq. We sincerely hope that they will return in one piece.

A New Small Guided Missiles

The Hellfire guided missile is the weapon of choice for attack helicopters and armed drones like the Predator, and is powerful enough to destroy a typical tank. Lockheed-Martin has now developed a smaller version of the same concept, which it calls a DAGR 70mm guided rocket and sells for $20,000 each, which is "about the cost of a smart bomb."

[I]t uses the Hellfire fire control system [and is] basically a 25 pound 70mm rocket, with a laser seeker, a six pound warhead and a range of about six kilometers. Laser designators on a helicopter, or with troops on the ground, is pointed at the target, and the laser seeker in the front of the DAGR homes on the reflected laser light . . . . The guided 70mm rocker is to be used against targets that don't require a larger (hundred pound), and more expensive (over $100,000) Hellfire missile, but still need some targeting precision. . . . The DAGR makes an excellent weapon for UAVs, especially since you can carry four of them in place of one Hellfire.


DAGR is allegedly accurate to within a few feet of the aiming point.

By comparison, one of the Air Force's leading ordinance projects is the "small diameter bomb", which is a 250 pound guided bomb, about ten times the size of the DAGR. The small diameter bomb will be the smallest bomb in the Air Force's arsenal when it enters service.

The DAGR is part of a long term trend towards smaller, high accuracy, high cost weapons in the military. The trend arises from the limited cargo capacity of small drones, the reduced need to have a large explosion or fire multiple missiles to compensate for an inability to consistently hit a point exactly on a target, and a preference for an ability to hit more targets rather than bigger targets.

Furthermore, the trend reflects a shift in expectations about likely military opponents from the heavily armored vehicles that attack helicopters were designed to defeat, to lightly armed personnel and irregular mechanized infantry U.S. forces have faced in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recent experience has also created a stronger desire to avoid collateral damage to allies and neutral parties in close quarters combat.

It remains to be seen how long the latest wave of guided munitions will remain expensive. Something on the order of 90% of the cost of guided munitions goes into their guidance and targeting systems. The raw materials that go into those systems cost something on the order of a few hundred dollars or less. The bulk of the cost of a Hellfire or DAGR comes from the costs of developing and manufacturing the electronics. In theory, a mass production deal could dramatically reduce those costs.

An Herb That Works

Most herbal remedies don't work. But, Rhodiola rosea a yellow-flowered mountain herb found in Russia, does have medicinal properties long know and scientifically studied there, but only recently known in the West. It has effects similar to those that folk medicine attributes to Korean herb ginseng.

Laboratory and animal studies show that the herb may inhibit cancer cells, protect healthy cells from toxins, and correct enzyme imbalances associated with diabetes. In addition, four trials with human volunteers [using rosea extract SRH-5] show that rhodiola extracts can boost mental performance, reduce fatigue, and ease depression. . . .

In animals, the herb lowers production of the stress hormone cortisol. It acts as an antioxidant, helping to eliminate from the body the oxygen radicals that damage cells. And in muscles, it increases production of adenosine triphosphate, the molecule that serves as cellular gasoline.

Trials in people, while not up to Western standards, hinted that rhodiola could alleviate depression, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, and chronic listlessness.

Other, higher quality trials suggested that the herb could boost athletic performance. . . .

[T]hree compounds found only in the rosea type of Rhodiola—there are at least 200 related species—were responsible for much of the plant's activity. They dubbed these compounds rosavins, and in 1989 the Soviet government declared that all rhodiola extracts must contain at least 3 percent rosavins. Dietary supplement makers throughout the world still hew to this standard. [There may be up to a dozen active ingredients.]

Soviet . . . research culminated with ADAPT, a mixture of extracts from R. rosea, a species of ginseng, and a berry called Schizandra chinensis.


An effort to start small scale commercial production in Alberta is underway.

My source, Science News, relied on the following sources:

Abidov, M., et al. 2004. Extract of Rhodiola rosea radix reduces the level of c-reactive protein and creatinine kinase in the blood. Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine 138(July):63-64. Abstract available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/B:BEBM.0000046940.45382.53.

Abidov, M., et al. 2003. Effect of extracts from Rhodiola Rosea and Rhodiola crenulata (Crassulaceae) roots on Atp content in mitochondria of skeletal muscles. Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine 136(December):585-587. Abstract available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/B:BEBM.0000020211.24779.15.

Boon-Niermeijer, E.K. . . . G. Wikman, et al. 2000. Phyto-adaptogens protect against environmental stress-induced death of embryos from the freshwater snail Lymnaea stagnalis. Phytomedicine 7(January):389-399.

Brown, R.P. and P.L. Gerbarg. 2004. The Rhodiola revolution. New York: Rodale.

Brown, R.P., P.L. Gerbarg, and Z. Ramazanov. 2002. Rhodiola rosea: A phytomedicinal overview. Herbalgram 56:40-52.

Darbinyan, V. . . . G. Wikman, et al. 2000. Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue—a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract Shr-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. Phytomedicine 7(May):365-371. Abstract.

Galambosi, B. 2006.Demand and availability of Rhodiola rosea raw material. In Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. L.E. Craker, R.J. Bogers, and D. Lange, eds. Netherlands: Springer.

Kelly, G.S. 2001. Rhodiola rosea: A possible plant adaptogen. Alternative Medicine Review 6(June):293-302. Available at http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/.fulltext/6/3/293.pdf.

Petkov, V.D., et al. 1986. Effects of alcohol aqueous extract from Rhodiola rosea L. roots on ;earning and memory. ACTA Physiologica et Pharmacologica Bulgarica 12(January):3-16.

Shevtsov, V.A. . . . and G. Wikman. 2003. A randomized trial of two different doses of a Shr-5 Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work. Phytomedicine 10(March):95-105. Abstract available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1078/094471103321659780.

Spasov, A.A., G.K. Wikman, et al. 2000. A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea Shr-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine 7(April):85-89. Abstract.

25 September 2007

Kosovo Coming Ready Or Not

A senior European diplomat . . . said, "The talks end on Dec. 10. If there is no sense then that Serbia and Kosovo can agree on the province's future, then Kosovo will make a unilateral declaration of independence," and the U.S. and the Europeans will back the move.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Reuters news agency: "There's going to be an independent Kosovo. It's the only solution that is potentially stabilizing for the Balkans rather than destabilizing for the Balkans."


From here.

This marks a decisive break from statements made this August in which Western powers has insisted that any partision be consentual.

Serbia, backed by Russia, has been willing to grant broad local autonomy to Kosovo, but not independence. Last week it was reported that:

Belgrade's new proposal includes giving the independence-seeking Kosovo Albanians "95 percent competence" in running the province.

"The Serbian proposal is new and specific and offers a form of maximum autonomy not seen in the world today," [Serbia's diplomat] Samardzic said, adding that Kosovo would maintain "weak and minimal" links with Serbia.


A little more than a week ago:

Serbian President Boris Tadic, at a meeting with Czech President Vaclav Klaus in Prague, repeated Monday that Serbia would use all legal and diplomatic means to prevent independence.

“Serbia cannot have conditions imposed on itself that affect its sovereignty and integrity,” he told reporters.

“We will use all legal and diplomatic means to prevent this (independence) from happening.”


It isn't clear what military or other action Serbia make take if it is dissatisfied with a unilateral declaration of independence.

The fear is that if Russia intervened on behalf of Serbia, while the U.S. and E.U. took the side of Kosovo in a military conflict, that the traditional World War III scenario could break out. The latest firm statements from the U.S. and the Europeans appear caculated towards pushing Serbia to back down from its demand for nominal, but meaningless sovereignty, possibly in exchange for some other, less symbolic concession. Without military support from Russia, Serbia would be powerless to defeat entrenched Kosovar, NATO and U.S. forces allied against it.

Russian opposition has prevented unilateral independence for Kosovo from being sanctioned by the United Nations.

Prostitution Legal In Most Of E.U.

According to the AP:

In an effort to bring prostitutes into the legal economy, officials said Monday that Hungary will allow sex workers to apply for an entrepreneur's permit — a move that could generate government revenues from an industry worth an estimated $1 billion annually.

Human rights groups often have criticized European Union member Hungary for legalizing prostitution — which has been fully allowed under certain conditions since 1999. Opponents say legalization does not help prostitutes.

The permits allow prostitutes to give receipts to customers and become part of the legal economy by paying taxes and making social security contributions, said Agnes Foldi, head of the Hungarian Prostitutes' Interest Protection Association. . . .

Prostitutes in Hungary, can work legally only within certain zones — distant from schools and churches — and must get regular medical checkups. Pimping and bordellos are banned.

Prostitution is legal in most of the EU with a few exceptions such as Ireland, where it is banned. The Netherlands has legislation comparable to Hungary's, where prostitution has a similar status to other jobs. . . . there are about 7,000-9,000 full-time prostitutes in Hungary, rising to as many as 20,000 during the summer tourist season. . . .

Hungary is a signatory of the 1950 United Nations convention for the suppression of human trafficking and prostitution. But officials claimed the program did not go against the spirit of the convention because even though prostitutes would now be able to get licenses, the government would not keep a separate registry of them. . . .

Janice Raymond of the U.S.-based Coalition Against Trafficking in Women said by issuing entrepreneurial permits to prostitutes, Hungary is violating its international treaty obligations under the U.N. convention. She said countries such as Hungary that have ratified the convention agree not to regulate prostitution or subject women to any administrative controls such as registration and taxation.


Who knew?

Foreign North American Automobile Factories

Selected data on foreign automobile company factories in the United States:

Toyota and Subaru:

Alabama 1
Kentucky 1
Indiana 1
Texas (San Antonio) 1 (opened November 2006)
West Virginia 1
Mississippi 1 (Under Construction)
Mexico 1
Canada (Ontario) 1

It also has "a joint-venture operation with General Motors at New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI), in Fremont, CA (excluded from the General Motors list at this site), which began in 1984, and with Subaru at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. (SIA), in Lafayette, IN, which started in 2006."

Honda:

Ohio 2
Canada (Ontario) 1

Nissan:

Mexico 2
Tennessee 2

BMW:

South Carolina 1
Mississippi 1

Hyundai:

Alabama 1

A Hyundai plant in Quebec was closed in 1993. It also has design facilities in the United States in California, Michigan and Alabama.

Mitsubishi:

Illinois 1

CAMI Automotive (a joint venture of Suzuki and GM):

Canada (Ontario) 1

Big Three Automobile Industry Factories

The Big Three Autombile Industry companies have combined North American factories in the following states:

Michigan 56
Ohio 18
Indiana 8
Missouri 6
New York 4
Kentucky 3
Illinois 3
Delaware 2
Kansas 2 (Kansas City aka Fairfax)
Wisconsin 2
Georgia 1
Louisiana 1
Tennessee 1
Texas 1 (Arlington)
Virginia 1

Abroad in North America:
Ontario 14
Mexico 9
Quebec 1

Aside from the Mexican plants, there are only seven automobile factories in North America (all of which are General Motors plants) that are more than a few miles West of the Mississippi or South of the Mason-Dixon line. The Arlington, Texas plant is the furtherest West within the United States. The Virginia plant and Quebec plant are also General Motors plants.

There are only six automobile factories in the Northeast (all but two of which are General Motors plants), four in New York State and two in Delaware. One of the New York GM factory is scheduled to close in 2008, leaving two New York factories in the Buffalo area and one near the Hudson River in a little North of New York City.

Chrysler Factories

Wikipedia lists Chrysler factors only for North America. According to its list, Chrysler factories are located in the following states:

Michigan 10
Ohio 4
Indiana 3
Missouri 2
Delaware 1
Wisconsin 1
Illinois 1

It also has 3 plants in Canada (all in Ontario) and 3 in Mexico.

Ford Factories

For comparison purposes with General Motors, I have listed the location of Ford factories below based upon Wikipedia's list. In both the GM and Ford case, plants closing in 2007 are excluded, while plants scheduled to be closed in the future are included.

In the United States, there are Ford automobile manufacturing factories in the following states:

Michigan 18
Ohio 8
Illinois 2
Kentucky 2
New York 1
Missouri 1

There are 75 Ford factories abroad including 4 in Canada (all in Ontario) and 6 in Mexico.

Ford's sister company Mazda has 17 factories outside of North America (none in Canada or Mexico), and 3 in the United States. All three of Mazda's U.S. factories are included in the Ford list, and seven of Mazada's 17 the factories abroad, are included in the Ford list.

Atheism Still Front Page News

The Denver Post ran another front page story on atheism yesterday, this time on the impact of a college education on faith. The Univeristy of Texas study reported upon found that while 18-25 year olds do dramatically reduce their involvement in organized religion when they leave home, that the drop is actually greater for non-college students than it is for college students, and that the proportion whose beliefs are impacted is a small fraction of the proportion who simply participate less in organized religious practice.

Texas researchers found that college students were less likely to lose their religion than others in their age group, 18 to 25 years old. . . .

Of the Texas study subjects, interviewed in 2001-02, almost 24 percent of those who never attended college said religion had become less important to them, compared with 15 percent of those who had earned a bachelor's degree. . . .

A 2006 study by two professors from Harvard University and George Mason Universities found the percentage of atheists and agnostics teaching in U.S. colleges, 23.4 percent, is about three times greater than in the general population.

Even so, they also found that almost 40 percent of professors from schools across the country attended religious services at least once a week, compared with about 49 percent of the general population.

Researchers at UCLA reported in 2004 that 79 percent of college students surveyed believed in God, 69 percent prayed and 81 percent attended some religious services.

UCLA's study surveyed more than 112,000 first-year students at 236 colleges and universities. . . .

To be sure, four decades of research have shown that adults ages 18 to 25 of all faiths slack off in terms of church attendance and identifying with organized religion, according to the Texas report.

By the 1980s, nearly 60 percent of students reported attending church less often than they did as adolescents. Up to 40 percent reported dropping out of organized religion once they left the nest.

Recent statistics, culled in the late 1990s to early 2000s, found that 69 percent of adults ages 18 to 25 attend church less often than they did growing up, a deeper decline than previous decades.

However, only 20 percent said religion was less important to them. And fewer than 17 percent completely dropped their religious affiliation.


Given that the educated are, on average less religious than the less educated, this would suggest that the college bound are more secular to start with than the non-college bound.

24 September 2007

Warning Signs (Niveah Case)

A three year old girl is dead. Police think the girl was killed by the mother's boyfriend (probably in the heat of passion, recklessly or negligently) and that the mother and the boyfriend then made a failed effort to cover up the crime.

There were warning signs in this case.

From the Rocky Mountain News:

The mother of 3-year-old Niveah Gallegos . . . Miriam Gallegos, 20 . . . [left the child with] boyfriend, Angel Ray Montoya, 22 [while she was at work] . . .

[P]olice dropped a 2006 sex assault investigation of Montoya because Gallegos would not cooperate with detectives. The identity of the victim in that case was redacted in the arrest warrant.

Montoya was found guilty of indecent exposure in 2000 but failed to register as a sex offender and was sentenced in 2003 to 60 days in jail.

In 2005, he was arrested in Denver on charges of child abuse and false imprisonment. He was found guilty of child abuse and initially was given a suspended sentence and ordered to undergo mental health counseling and 18 months of supervised probation. But in January 2007, his probation was revoked, and he was sentenced to serve 270 days in jail. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation lists Montoya as a registered sex offender. . . .

Police said Montoya often stayed with his girlfriend and the child in the Logan Street apartment[.]


Mom was a teen mother, probably pregnant at age 16, and quite possibly a high school dropout.

Her current boyfriend was fresh out of jail as a convicted child abuser, was a convicted sex offender and may have raped somebody, quite possibly the mother or the child. We don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if Montoya had a checkered history before his juvenile record was wiped clean beyond an indecent exposure incident when he was 15 years old. One suspects he was unemployed and not paying rent when this happened.

Surely, she knew that this man was a creep and a bad person to choose as a babysitter. Presumably, she had few other options or was simply blinded by love and a general lack of sound judgment. Free babysitting can sound very good when you are working retail.

We can't stop sixteen year olds from getting pregnant and having babies. And, experience has shown it to be damnably hard to keep the fathers of those babies around and contributing to their children's well being in a positive way. But, if we, as a society, are going to expect single mothers with pre-school aged children to work to support themselves, shouldn't we step up to the plate and provide adequate child care? Surely, Miriam is both a victim and a perpetrator in this case. She will probably ultimately enter into a plea bargain in exchange for testimony against her boyfriend, and if the body can't be found, that plea bargain will probably be a generous one.

We can't, and shouldn't, put everyone who has ever flashed someone in prison forever. But, is it so much to expect convicted child abusers not to serve as babysitters? There also seems to be some indication that Montoya may have been mentally ill. But, apparently, when his probation was revoked, mental health treatment ended as well. Once you serve a jail sentence after your probation has been revoked, we seem to give up on keeping an eye on people who have been convicted of crimes. We put a lot of people on probation for minor crimes in lieu of a jail sentence when they don't really need continuing supervision, but, in the case of crimes like child abuse, particularly in the case of someone who is already a registered sex offender, aren't the people who have their probation revoked the ones who need the most supervision on a continuing basis? Also, if Montoya had had a job and a place to live after he was released after several months in jail, would he have been living with Miriam and providing day care for her daughter?

Montoya is up against a statute that calls for the death penalty or life in prison without parole if he "knowingly causes the death of a child who has not yet attained twelve years of age and the person committing the coffense is one in a position of trust with repsect to the victim." It is a harsh punishment in many cases, perhaps even in this case, if we knew all the facts.

Montoya's best hope is to convince a jury or prosecutor that he was merely reckless or criminally negligent, rather than knowingly causing the death. In a case involving a child, a claim that he acted in "the heat of passion" is not a mitigating factor, except at the punishment phase (and I doubt the Denver DA will seek the death penalty in this case). An after the fact cover up doesn't help his claim. He can testify in his own defense, and he is probably the only person who knows the truth, but if he does testify, his criminal record can be used against him. His girlfriend's willingness to lie to authorities in her initial 9-1-1 call to cover for him, and her previous lack of cooperation in the sexual assault case (if that could make it into a court of law) also doesn't help her credibility. Her lack of first hand knowledge of the cause of death is also a problem in any effort on her part to provide credible testimony that would help Montoya.

The police are hot to find the child's body, first, to prove that the child is indeed dead, and second, to show a cause of death, which, if it was a brutal as a pool of blood on the apartment floor would indicate, would tend to weaken a claim that this death was merely reckless or negligent.

GM Factories

If Wikipedia's list of General Motors factories is correct, the impact of a General Motors automobile workers' strike will be highly localized (the UAW, as I understand it, represents only workers in the United States, not those in Canada, Mexico, or other foreign countries). By state, General Motors has plants as follows:

Michigan 28
Ohio 6
Indiana 5
Missouri 3
New York 3
Kansas 2 (both in Fairfax)

There is one GM plant each in Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

General Motors has 48 plants abroad, including 9 in Canada (8 in Ontario and 1 in Quebec) and 3 in Mexico.

Strike!

The United Automobile Workers are striking General Motors.

This move will likely do one of two things, secure a quick concession from a company that can't afford a strike, or push General Motors into bankruptcy. Ford, GM and Chrysler have all been on a death watch among automobile industry analysts for some time. GM wanted to be the lead negotiator with the UAW in order to control the union negotiation part of its fate.

GM monthly sales have been down more than 20% from a year ago, for a few months. It lost $12 billion in the time period from 2005-2006; its North American operations are still unprofitable. It has serious branding issues, and has spun off half of GMAC, one if its few profitable ventures, Delphi(its parts division, that is also in dismal economic straights) and Suzuki. Even its marquee military vehicle, the Humvee, has fallen out of favor with the military.

The union has suffered as a result. As I noted eleven months ago:

Twenty years ago, General Motors employed 876,000 people. Now, it has 335,000 and is laying people off (at least 30,000 hourly and thousands of salaried workers). Part of this is due to the 1999 spin off of now bankrupt Delphi, which currently has about 185,000 employees and is also laying people off (more than 30,000 are planned by 2008, including about half of its 50,000 U.S. workers). Ford and Chrysler (since merged into Dailmer Chrysler) have faced lay offs as well and continue to do so. Ford is laying off 30,000 people.


Chrysler was purchased by a private equity firm, so it is widely believed to have considerable staying power and is also shedding sales less quickly than its American competitors (by about 8%).

Ford is out of the immediate path of the UAW's wrath by virtue of having taken a back seat in labor negotiations. Thus, GM has managed to to put itself in the most likely to die position, despite the fact that GM has the largest market share of the big three. Ford has almost as many employees as GM now, which isn't necessarily a good thing, given that it has a smaller market share. Ford is losing even more money than GM, is shedding divisions, and is losing market share at a similar rate, so it is otherwise neck and neck with GM on the path to self-destruction.

Suppose GM does go bankrupt. What happens then? A bankruptcy would mean that GM could force an unfavorable contract down the UAW's neck, although at the cost of sustained labor unrest that is not necessarily legally authorized. This means that GM could abandon its defined benefit pension obligations and retiree health benefits, legacy costs which are at the crux of the current strike. GM would likely use the opportunity to shut down old plants with looming environmental liabilities which it could also escape. GM would also likely use the opportunity to thin a bloated dealership network, leaving smaller dealers in the lurch. I am inclined to doubt that GM would vanish entirely from the automobile industry and liquidate. But, it would probably have to sell off the rest of GMAC to pay creditors.

Footnote: The recent collapse of the American dollar should be a huge boost to American automakers over importers. A weaker dollar makes imports more expensive and exports cheaper. Certainly, this is mitigated to some extent by the fact that Toyota and Honda, for example, build many of their cars in North American now. It also isn't clear to me how many cars North American plants build for foreign markets. But, foreign name plates still import more than American ones on average in the American market. It is a mystery to me that foreign car prices haven't surged recently. Perhaps American companies still import too much from Canada and Mexico for a dollar collapse to help anymore.

UPDATE from a Denver Post Editorial, the day following the start of the strike:

Monday's strike against General Motors by the United Auto Workers marks another ominous turn in what may ultimately be the death spiral of the American automobile industry.

If the strike lasts just a few weeks, it may actually help GM — which lost $12 billion over the last two years — reduce its 67-day backlog of unsold models to a more managable level. . .

[GM] accounted for 60 percent of the U.S. auto market in its heyday and enjoyed a 46 percent market share as recently as 1980. GM's share dropped to 24.7 percent last year . . . .

For GM — as well as for the anxious onlookers, Chrysler and Ford — this struggle isn't about wages so much as health care costs, especially for retirees. Falling market shares and automation mean GM now employs just 20 percent as many workers as it did in 1990. GM workers may retire after just 30 years of service, many years before they're eligible for Medicare. Thus, GM's generous health benefits for retirees now add as much as $2,000 to the cost of each car it builds.


Toyota has surpassed General Motors as the #1 automaker globally.

A New York Moment In Denver

Sometimes Denver can feel a little too much like New York City:

After some 200 volunteers spent the weekend futilely searching trash bins, alleys and hallways for the body of a missing 3-year-old girl, the city took the unprecedented move of suspending trash pickup today of Dumpster-size trash bins.

"We're going to request the delay of trash pickup Monday of the larger receptacles," police spokesman Sonny Jackson said. "We're asking all businesses to look in their trash Monday for anything that might be different."


I usually find it a pain, but today, I appreciate the fact that the dumpster behind my office near where authorities suspect that a child's body may have been dumped is locked with an iron bar and a padlock.

21 September 2007

Point Defense Update

The main anti-missile weapon of the U.S. Navy, called Phalanx, is being adapated for other purposes:

Phalanx radar can spot incoming missiles out to about 5,000 meters, and the 20mm cannon is effective out to about 2,000 meters. . . . . since 2003, there have been two major Phalanx mods. In one, the Phalanx was adapted to use on land, against rocket attacks. Using a larger artillery spotting radar, Phalanx directs its fire at incoming mortar shells and rockets. Not all the incoming stuff is hit, but a lot of it is . . . The second mod is for shipboard use, and changes the software so the Phalanx can be used against small boats . . . . Israel is looking at the anti-rocket version[.]


The business end of the phalanx isn't fundamentally much more sophisticated than a heavy World War I era machine gun. It doesn't take out incoming ordinance with lasers, kinetic energy weapons, or anything fancy like that. It is just a big, high rate of fire slug thrower. Likewise, radar itself isn't revolutionary technology. Radar has been used for military purposes for half a century. The sophisticated piece of the system is its lightning fast interpretation of incoming radar signals coordinated with its ability to automatically aim the weapon at fast moving incoming targets. The real value is all in the software.

Despite this, Phalanx is arguably the make or break technology for the modern Navy. Anti-surface ship missiles have grown so potent that anything smaller than an aircraft carrier can be brutally damaged by a single hit, even if the ship is relatively thick hulled. Ships are vulnerable to large barrages of enemy missiles (launched from ships or aircraft), attacks from small boats, missiles and enemy submarines. Phalanx is the primary defense against two of these threats. If it doesn't work, the surface fleet is toast. For ground troops, meaningfully effective active anti-artillery defenses represent a new and important capability.

While a lot of money and talk goes into anti-ballistic missile defenses, far more prosiac weapons are a far more immediate threat to Americans and their allies.

Endangered Language Map

National Geographic has a nice, interactive, endangered language map. The map is both useful in its own right and is an exemplary example of how to display this kind of complex information in a coherent manner.

20 September 2007

The Wonders Of Economic Research

Weird news about corporate performance.

Researchers are running correlations on CEOs' personal life to their performance. We have studies on CEOs buying large houses and CEOs frequency on the front page of business magazines (there are negative correlations to performance on both). The latest is a study on family deaths. CEOs that have suffered the death of a child (or spouse) belong to companies that underperform the market (the death of an in-law correlates to market overperformance).


From the Business Law Prof Blog.

Steele School In The News

My neighborhood elementary school, Steele Elementary School in Denver, has a school garden and farmer's market led by our beloved Mr. Andy. Colorado Public Radio discussed the program this morning in its newscast. We've bought food from the market and eaten it, and both of my children have engaged in multiple classroom activities flowing out of it. Hurray for Steele!

Nunn Nukes

A new uranium mine has been proposed for an area near Nunn, Colorado. Nunn is in a rural area of the northern Front Range, which is home to some of my relatives, and is best known for its water tower. The demand for uranium is increasing as the nuclear industry in the United States is gearing up to expand greatly after a thirty year hiatus in new reactor permits. Area politicians are particularly concerned about contamination via ground water from the mining process which involves leaching uranium.

Colorado has a long history of uranium mining and was the source of the uranium used in the first atomic bombs, but that mining in and around Nucla and Naturita for the most part, in Western Slope canyons, was far from major population centers.

Most of the mining area near Nucla and Naturita has been reclaimed as a golf course, after a long clean up effort was completed. Surprisingly, golf courses are desirable reclamation uses. This is because the main harm from trace nuclear waste remaining after a major cleanup effort is exposures from missed hot spots. Exposure is proportional to time exposed, and while many people frequently go to a golf course, few people spend long periods of time in the same place on a golf course. In contrast, camp sites, ball fields, office buildings and residential uses, to identify a few, often have regular users who spend a dozen to forty or more hours in a week in a particular spot.

The federal government has been extraordinarily recalcitrant in compensating workers at those operations for the occupational illnesses they suffered in the early days of the nuclear industry in hearings that have continued through 2007. Many workers will die before receiving any compensation at all, despite the fact that they have a statutory right to compensation for illnesses arising from work at nuclear facilities.

19 September 2007

Habeas Corpus Restoration Dies in Senate

The Senate narrowly rejected legislation on Wednesday that would have given military detainees the right to protest their detention in federal court.

The 56-43 vote fell four shy of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on the bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa. . . .

Among the 56 senators voting in favor of expanding detainees' rights were six Republicans: Specter, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Richard Lugar of Indiana, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Gordon Smith of Oregon.


From here.

All Senators voting no or not voting were Republicans, except for Independent Senator Joe Lieberman who also voted against habeas corpus restoration.

CREW Identifies Corrupt Politicians

According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), corruption is a bipartisan affair in Washington, but some parties have more of the 24 most corrupt politicians than others (the four Democrats are in bold, the 20 Republicans are in ordinary type):

Members of the Senate:
Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK)

Members of House:
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-CA)
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL)
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-LA)
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
Rep. Gary G. Miller (R-CA)
Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)
Rep. Timothy F. Murphy (R-PA)
Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA)
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM)
Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY)
Rep. David Scott (D-GA)
Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL)
Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-NM)

Dishonorable Mention:
Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)


Justification for the rankings can be found at the link.

Voter Registration Alert

The deadline to register to vote in the November 2007 election in Denver is October 9, 2007.

Lions, Wolves and Horses

Colorado Confidential ran a couple of stories about wild mustangs today, one here, with a link to the first story within the second story. This got me thinking about what kind of predator population it would take to control the wild horse population. The data I could find revealed that wolves and mountain lions are the only natural predators that make much sense for horse population control, and I found the data below about how much they eat.

How much do wolves eat?

15. What do wolves eat?

Gray wolves prey primarily on large, hoofed mammals such as white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose, elk, caribou, bison, Dall sheep, musk oxen, and mountain goat. Medium sized mammals, such as beaver and snowshoe hare, can be an important secondary food source. Occasional wolves will prey on birds or small mammals.

Red wolves primarily prey on white-tailed deer, raccoons, rabbits and rodents.

16. How much do wolves eat?

Gray wolves can survive on about 2 1/2 pounds of food per wolf per day, but they require about 5 pounds per wolf per day to reproduce successfully. The most a gray wolf can eat in one sitting is about 22.5 pounds.

Red wolves eat an average of 5 pounds of food per day, but have been known to eat up to 12 pounds in one sitting.

17. How many prey do gray wolves kill per year?

In Minnesota, wolves kill the average equivalent of 15 to 20 adult-sized deer per wolf per year. Given the 1997-98 estimate of 2,450 wolves in Minnesota, that would equal about 36,750 to 49,000 deer killed by wolves. In comparison, from 1995-1999 hunters killed between 32,300 to 78,200 deer each year in Minnesota's wolf range. In addition, several thousand deer are killed during collisions with vehicles each year.


The deer population of Minnesota is roughly 800,000, as of 1997. Thus, it takes roughly 200 deer to support one gray wolf, and given that they tend to operate in packs of 5-6 wolves, it takes roughly 1,000-1,200 deer to support a wolf pack. Multiple wolf packs are necessary to maintain a viable gene pool.

How much do mountain lion's eat?

Mountain lions eat primarily deer throughout their range. If there are no deer, there are few lions. Secondary prey can include bighorn, javelina, and even porcupines. A puma generally kills one deer per week. The lion caches the carcass under a shrub or buries it under leaves, and may return to feed nightly for several days. Pumas in the desert kill more often then those in the mountain woodlands, because the cached carcasses decay faster in the hot desert.


If the kill to total population ratio of deer is similar for mountain lions and wolves, then it takes about 500 deer to support a single mountain lion. They live in solitary environments most of the time, but it still takes many mountain lions to support a viable gene pool.

Converting to horses

Of course, a horse is much larger than a deer. Adult horses are 850-2000 pounds. An adult white tailed deer usually weighs 90-220 pounds, although they can get to be up to 350 pounds. Thus, a horse has about ten times as much meat as a deer.

This suggests that solitary mountain lions would be poor horse predators. A dead horse doesn't last long in the wild, and a mountain lion can only eat so much at once. Most of the meat on a dead horse would be wasted by a single mountain lion whose usual weekly meal is a deer.

On the other hand, a pack of twenty wolves that took down 40 horses a year, could probably eat a comparable share of the meat from the horses to what they take from deer prey. This suggests that a herd of about 400 horses could support a single large wolf pack.

Moreover, in reality, the wolves would probably eat some prey other than horses, so a large wolf pack could probably do well managing a somewhat smaller herd of horses, if it also had other prey available.

Given the number of wild horses in Colorado, about 100-160 wolves could probably fully control wild horse population growth in the state. This many wolves would also probably provide something close to a sufficient genetic diversity to maintain a sustainable wild wolf population in the state. Add additional wolves to control deer, elk and moose populations and those numbers could be increased considerably, to several hundred wolves, or even thousands of wolves.

Of course, ranchers, residents of rural communities and exurbanites might not appreciate a state with little or no human hunting, and a thousand wolves roaming the state in large packs in the wild.

18 September 2007

Sample Denver 2007 Election Ballot

A sample November 2007 election ballot for Denver is now available via the Denver Clerk and Recorder's office. To recap:

Three school board seats are contested. Every Denver voter will have either one or two races to vote in, depending upon the district that voter lives in.

There are nine referred fiscal issues -- a 2.5 mill levy, and 8 bond issues for an aggregate of $550 million of borrowing. They are 1A through 1I.

There is one citizen initiative regarding making marijuana enforcement a low priority in the city. This is issue 100.

All voting will be by mail in ballot this year in Denver.

Denver Financial Referrenda Explained

George in Denver explains the financial impact of the ballot issues facing Denver voters this November:

The State Legislature passed the School Finance Act that froze property tax rates–in opposition to a 1982 constitutional amendment–thus negating the requisites of the constitutional amendment that provided when residential property values rose, mill levies would fall; what was supposed to be an effort to limit the tax burden on property owners by the state.

So, the truth or the more accurate estimate of how much property taxes will increase–taking into account both the proposed 2.5 mill increase and the cost of the $550 million bond package–both from the Hick–and Ritter’s back door property tax increase (which, incidentally, only affects property that rises in value, like DENVER), looks more like about $100 per year: $36.54 for the state increase; $50.75 for the city mill levy increase and $12.52 for the bond package. (These figures from Chris Barge’s piece in the September 11th, edition of the Rocky Mountain News.)


For what it is worth, I think that the 1982 constitutional amendment was bad fiscal policy for the state. Revenues from a tax on property values should grow or shrink gradually with the tax base, which are a proxy for local inflation, economic growth and economic decline.

At any rate, according to George, the bottom line is that if voters approve all of the issues on the Denver ballot this year, that the decision they are making would increase taxes on an average home in Denver by $63.27 a year. Any other tax increases you see will happen with or without voter approval in November.

If your house is more valuable than average (which is about $255,000 of assessor determined actual value), you will pay more, if your house if worth less you will pay less. If you own business real estate or taxable business personal property, your hike will be a lot more than that, as business is taxed at a much higher effective rate than residential property.

I am pleasantly surprised at just how inexpensive these ballot measures will be if adopted. The City has shown restraint in what it is asking the people to approve. Also, the many categories put to voters keeps the city on a reasonably tight leash regarding how the money is spent.

Fixing Amendment 41

I offer below the text of Amendment 41 with changes I would propose to fix its flaws.

The proposal below: (1) eliminates ordinary government employees and local government from the scope of the constitutional provisions, (2) broadens the friends and family exception to all gifts not involving a breach of public trust, instead of "special occasions",(3) adds an express scholarship exception, (4) allows lobbyists to give up to $5 a year of non-food and beverage gifts, (5) provides a penalty (disgorgement) to public officials and legislators for non-breach of public trust gifts in violation of Amendment 41, (6) gives the commission the authority to revoke the registration of non-compliant professional lobbyists. With these changes, the vast majority of the flaws of the proposal would be resolved and it would become a very positive and beneficial provision of our constitution.

Changes (1) and (4) above can't be done any other way than by changing the constitution. Changes (2) and (3) above could probably be done by statute or rule, but making the clarification in the text itself would be better. Changes (5) and (6) above definitely could be done by statute.

This would take a citizen's initiative or referrendum, but would be well worth the trouble.

With the changes, fewer than 200 people, all of whom have policy making power, and their families, would be covered by the Amendment 41 gift ban. Without the changes tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people, are affected, despite the fact that most have no policy making power or only modest power.

Detailed Summary of Text Changes

Sections 2, 4, 8 and 9 are unchanged. The only change in Sections 1 and 5 are the removal of references to local government and govermment employees (including in the appointments clause at Section 5, 2(a)(V) pertaining to a local government representative). Section 7 relating to local government is repealed.

Local government rules impact a great many people, involved widely differing situations, and are well within the competence of the legislature to regulate without being thwarted by personal self interest. Government employees rarely are in a position to act on policy matters, so a gift ban, which amounts to a conclusive presumption of ill motives, isn't appropriate for them. Also, regulating government employee ethics is well within the legislature's competence and impacts collective bargaining agreements that shouldn't be changes without negotiation over the changes.

In Section 3, references to local government and government employees are removed and the following language (shown in brackets is added):

(g) GIVEN BY AN INDIVIDUAL WHO IS A RELATIVE OR PERSONAL FRIEND OF THE RECIPIENT [THAT DOES NOT INVOLVE A BREACH THE PUBLIC TRUST FOR PRIVATE GAIN, SUCH AS A GIFT GIVEN] ON A SPECIAL OCCASION. . . .
[(i) SCHOLARSHIPS BASED UPON MERIT OR FINANCIAL NEED, OR REQUIRING CONTINUED ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE FOR ELIGIBILITY;]
(4) NOTWITHSTANDING ANY PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION TO THE CONTRARY, AND EXCEPTING CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AS DEFINED BY LAW, NO PROFESSIONAL LOBBYIST, PERSONALLY OR ON BEHALF OF ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY, SHALL KNOWINGLY OFFER, GIVE, OR ARRANGE TO GIVE, TO ANY PUBLIC OFFICER, OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, OR TO A MEMBER OF SUCH PERSON'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY, ANY GIFT OR THING OF VALUE, OF ANY KIND OR NATURE, [HAVING EITHER A FAIR MARKET VALUE OR AGGREGATE ACTUAL COST GREATER THAN FIVE DOLLARS ($5) IN ANY CALENDAR YEAR,] . . .
[(7) SIMILAR RESTRICTIONS ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS OR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES MAY BE ESTABLISHED BY LAW.]

In Section 6, references to local government or government employees are removed, lettered subdivisions are added, and the following language shown in brackets is added:
[(b) ANY PUBLIC OFFICER OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY WHO RECEIVES A GAIN IN VIOLATION OF SECTION 2, IF IT IS NOT ESTABLISHED THAT THE THERE IS A BREACH THE PUBLIC TRUST FOR PRIVATE GAIN, SHALL BE LIABLE TO THE STATE FOR THE AMOUNT OF THE FINANCIAL EQUIVALENT OF ANY BENEFITS OBTAINED BY SUCH ACTIONS.
(c) THE INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSION MAY REVOKE A PROFESSIONAL LOBBYIST’S REGISTRATION FOR ANY VIOLATION OF THIS ARTICLE.
(d)] THE MANNER OF RECOVERY AND ADDITIONAL PENALTIES MAY BE PROVIDED BY LAW.

Full Proposed Text (Not Redlined)

ARTICLE XXIX Ethics in Government

Section 1. Purposes and findings.
(1) THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF COLORADO HEREBY FIND AND DECLARE THAT
(a) THE CONDUCT OF PUBLIC OFFICERS, AND MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, MUST HOLD THE RESPECT AND CONFIDENCE OF THE PEOPLE;
(b) THEY SHALL CARRY OUT THEIR DUTIES FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PEOPLE OF
THE STATE;
(c) THEY SHALL, THEREFORE, AVOID CONDUCT THAT IS IN VIOLATION OF THEIR
PUBLIC TRUST OR THAT CREATES A JUSTIFIABLE IMPRESSION AMONG MEMBERS OF THE
PUBLIC THAT SUCH TRUST IS BEING VIOLATED;
(d) ANY EFFORT TO REALIZE PERSONAL FINANCIAL GAIN THROUGH PUBLIC OFFICE OTHER THAN COMPENSATION PROVIDED BY LAW IS A VIOLATION OF THAT TRUST; AND
(e) TO ENSURE PROPRIETY AND TO PRESERVE PUBLIC CONFIDENCE, THEY MUST HAVE THE BENEFIT OF SPECIFIC STANDARDS TO GUIDE THEIR CONDUCT, AND OF A PENALTY MECHANISM TO ENFORCE THOSE STANDARDS.
(2) THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF COLORADO ALSO FIND AND DECLARE THAT THERE ARE CERTAIN COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH HOLDING PUBLIC OFFICE AND THAT TO ENSURE THE INTEGRITY OF THE OFFICE, SUCH COSTS OF A REASONABLE AND NECESSARY NATURE SHOULD BE BORN BY THE STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
Section 2. Definitions. AS USED IN THIS ARTICLE, UNLESS THE CONTEXT OTHERWISE REQUIRES:
(1)"GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE" MEANS ANY EMPLOYEE,
INCLUDING INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS, OF THE STATE EXECUTIVE BRANCH, THE STATE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH, A STATE AGENCY, A PUBLIC INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION, OR ANY LOCAL GOVERNMENT, EXCEPT A MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OR A PUBLIC OFFICER.
(2) "LOCAL GOVERNMENT" MEANS COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY.
(3) "LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL" MEANS AN ELECTED OR APPOINTED OFFICIAL OF A LOCAL GOVERNMENT BUT DOES NOT INCLUDE AN EMPLOYEE OF A LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
(4) "PERSON" MEANS ANY INDIVIDUAL, CORPORATION , BUSINESS TRUST, ESTATE, TRUST, LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY, PARTNERSHIP, LABOR ORGANIZATION, ASSOCIATION, POLITICAL PARTY, COMMITTEE, OR OTHER LEGAL ENTITY.
(5) "PROFESSIONAL LOBBYIST" MEANS ANY INDIVIDUAL WHO ENGAGES HIMSELF OR HERSELF OR IS ENGAGED BY ANY OTHER PERSON FOR PAY OR FOR ANY CONSIDERATION FOR LOBBYING. "PROFESSIONAL LOBBYIST" DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY VOLUNTEER LOBBYIST, ANY STATE OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE ACTING IN HIS OR HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY, EXCEPT THOSE DESIGNATED AS LOBBYISTS AS PROVIDED BY LAW, ANY ELECTED PUBLIC OFFICIAL ACTING IN HIS OR HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY, OR ANY INDIVIDUAL WHO APPEARS AS COUNSEL OR ADVISOR IN AN ADJUDICATORY PROCEEDING.
(6)"PUBLIC OFFICER" MEANS ANY ELECTED OFFICER, INCLUDING ALL STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICEHOLDERS, THE HEAD OF ANY DEPARTMENT OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH,
AND ELECTED AND APPOINTED MEMBERS OF STATE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS. "PUBLIC OFFICER" DOES NOT INCLUDE A MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, A MEMBER OF THE JUDICIARY, ANY LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL, OR ANY MEMBER OF A BOARD, COMMISSION, COUNCIL OR COMMITTEE WHO RECEIVES NO COMPENSATION OTHER THAN A PER DIEM ALLOWANCE OR NECESSARY AND REASONABLE EXPENSES.
Section 3. Gift ban. (1) NO PUBLIC OFFICER, OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
SHALL ACCEPT OR RECEIVE ANY MONEY, FORBEARANCE, OR FORGIVENESS OF INDEBTEDNESS FROM ANY PERSON, WITHOUT SUCH PERSON RECEIVING LAWFUL CONSIDERATION OF EQUAL OR GREATER VALUE IN RETURN FROM THE PUBLIC OFFICER, OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, WHO ACCEPTED OR RECEIVED THE MONEY, FORBEARANCE OR FORGIVENESS OF INDEBTEDNESS.
(2) NO PUBLIC OFFICER, OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY AS THE BENEFICIARY OF A GIFT OR THING OF VALUE GIVEN TO SUCH PERSON'S SPOUSE OR DEPENDENT CHILD, SHALL SOLICIT, ACCEPT OR RECEIVE ANY GIFT OR OTHER THING OF VALUE HAVING EITHER A FAIR MARKET VALUE OR AGGREGATE ACTUAL COST GREATER THAN FIFTY DOLLARS ($50) IN ANY CALENDAR YEAR, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, GIFTS, LOANS, REWARDS, PROMISES OR NEGOTIATIONS OF FUTURE EMPLOYMENT, FAVORS OR SERVICES, HONORARIA, TRAVEL, ENTERTAINMENT, OR SPECIAL DISCOUNTS, FROM A PERSON, WITHOUT THE PERSON RECEIVING LAWFUL CONSIDERATION OF EQUAL OR GREATER VALUE IN RETURN FROM THE PUBLIC OFFICER, MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL, OR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE WHO SOLICITED, ACCEPTED OR RECEIVED THE GIFT OR OTHER THING OF VALUE.
(3) THE PROHIBITIONS IN SUBSECTIONS (1) AND (2) OF THIS SECTION DO NOT APPLY IF THE GIFT OR THING OF VALUE IS:
(a) A CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION AS DEFINED BY LAW;
(b) AN UNSOLICITED ITEM OF TRIVIAL VALUE LESS THAN FIFTY DOLLARS
($50), SUCH AS A PEN, CALENDAR, PLANT, BOOK, NOTE PAD OR OTHER SIMILAR ITEM;
(c) AN UNSOLICITED TOKEN OR AWARD OF APPRECIATION IN THE FORM OF A PLAQUE,
TROPHY, DESK ITEM, WALL MEMENTO, OR SIMILAR ITEM;
(d) UNSOLICITED INFORMATIONAL MATERIAL, PUBLICATIONS, OR SUBSCRIPTIONS RELATED TO THE RECIPIENT'S PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES;
(e) ADMISSION TO, AND THE COST OF FOOD OR BEVERAGES CONSUMED AT, A RECEPTION,
MEAL OR MEETING BY AN ORGANIZATION BEFORE WHOM THE RECIPIENT APPEARS TO SPEAK OR TO ANSWER QUESTIONS AS PART OF A SCHEDULED PROGRAM;
(f) REASONABLE EXPENSES PAID BY A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION OR OTHER STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT FOR ATTENDANCE AT A CONVENTION, FACT-FINDING MISSION OR TRIP, OR OTHER MEETING IF THE PERSON IS SCHEDULED TO DELIVER A SPEECH, MAKE A PRESENTATION, PARTICIPATE ON A PANEL, OR REPRESENT THE STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PROVIDED THAT THE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION RECEIVES LESS THAN FIVE PERCENT (5%) OF ITS FUNDING FROM FOR-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS OR ENTITIES;
(g) GIVEN BY AN INDIVIDUAL WHO IS A RELATIVE OR PERSONAL FRIEND OF THE RECIPIENT THAT DOES NOT INVOLVE A BREACH THE PUBLIC TRUST FOR PRIVATE GAIN, SUCH AS A GIFT GIVEN ON A SPECIAL OCCASION.
(h) A COMPONENT OF THE COMPENSATION PAID OR OTHER INCENTIVE GIVEN TOTHE RECIPIENT IN THE NORMAL COURSE OF EMPLOYMENT.
(i) SCHOLARSHIPS BASED UPON MERIT OR FINANCIAL NEED, OR REQUIRING CONTINUED ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE FOR ELIGIBILITY;
(4) NOTWITHSTANDING ANY PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION TO THE CONTRARY, AND EXCEPTING CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AS DEFINED BY LAW, NO PROFESSIONAL LOBBYIST, PERSONALLY OR ON BEHALF OF ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY, SHALL KNOWINGLY OFFER, GIVE, OR ARRANGE TO GIVE, TO ANY PUBLIC OFFICER, OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, , OR TO A MEMBER OF SUCH PERSON'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY, ANY GIFT OR THING OF VALUE, OF ANY KIND OR NATURE, HAVING EITHER A FAIR MARKET VALUE OR AGGREGATE ACTUAL COST GREATER THAN FIVE DOLLARS ($5) IN ANY CALENDAR YEAR, NOR KNOWINGLY PAY FOR ANY MEAL, BEVERAGE, OR OTHER ITEM TO BE CONSUMED BY SUCH PUBLIC OFFICER,OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, OR NOT SUCH GIFT OR MEAL, BEVERAGE OR OTHER ITEM TO BE CONSUMED IS OFFERED, GIVEN OR PAID FOR IN THE COURSE OF SUCH LOBBYIST'S BUSINESS OR IN CONNECTION WITH A PERSONAL OR SOCIAL EVENT; PROVIDED, HOWEVER , THAT A PROFESSIONAL LOBBYIST SHALL NOT BE PROHIBITED FROM OFFERING OR GIVING TO A PUBLIC OFFICER, OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, WHO IS A MEMBER OF HIS OR HER IMMEDIATE FAMILY ANY SUCH GIFT, THING OF VALUE, MEAL, BEVERAGE OR OTHER ITEM.
(5) THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY SHALL MAKE ANY CONFORMING AMENDMENTS TO THE REPORTING AND DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR PUBLIC OFFICERS, MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND PROFESSIONAL LOBBYISTS, AS PROVIDED BY LAW, TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS SET FORTH IN THIS SECTION.
(6) THE FIFTY-DOLLAR ($50) LIMIT SET FORTH IN SUBSECTION (2) OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE ADJUSTED BY AN AMOUNT BASED UPON THE PERCENTAGE CHANGE OVER A FOUR-YEAR PERIOD IN THE UNITED STATES BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS CONSUMER PRICE INDEX FOR DENVER-BOULDER-GREELEY, ALL ITEMS, ALL CONSUMERS, OR ITS SUCCESSOR INDEX, ROUNDED TO THE NEAREST LOWEST DOLLAR. THE FIRST ADJUSTMENT SHALL BE DONE IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF2011 AND THEN EVERY FOUR YEARS THEREAFTER.
(7) SIMILAR RESTRICTIONS ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS OR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES MAY BE ESTABLISHED BY LAW.
Section 4. Restrictions on representation after leaving office. NO STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICEHOLDER OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY SHALL PERSONALLY REPRESENT ANOTHER PERSON OR ENTITY FOR COMPENSATION BEFORE ANY OTHER STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICEHOLDER OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, FOR A PERIOD OF TWO YEARS FOLLOWING VACATION OF OFFICE. FURTHER RESTRICTIONS ON PUBLIC OFFICERS OR MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND SIMILAR RESTRICTIONS ON OTHER PUBLIC OFFICERS,
LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS OR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES MAY BE ESTABLISHED BY LAW.
Section 5. Independent ethics commission. (1) THERE IS HEREBY CREATED AN
INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSION TO BE COMPOSED OF FIVE MEMBERS. THE PURPOSE
OF THE INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSION SHALL BE TO HEAR COMPLAINTS, ISSUE FINDINGS,
AND ASSESS PENALTIES, AND ALSO TO ISSUE ADVISORY OPINIONS, ON ETHICS ISSUES ARISING UNDER THIS ARTICLE AND UNDER ANY OTHER STANDARDS OF CONDUCT AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS AS PROVIDED BY LAW. THE INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSION SHALL HAVE AUTHORITY TO ADOPT SUCH REASONABLE RULES AS MAY BE NECESSARY FOR THE PURPOSE OF ADMINISTERING AND ENFORCING THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE AND ANY OTHER STANDARDS OF CONDUCT AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS AS PROVIDED BY LAW. THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY SHALL APPROPRIATE REASONABLE AND NECESSARY FUNDS TO COVER STAFF AND ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES TO ALLOW THE INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSION TO CARRY OUT ITS DUTIES PURSUANT TO THIS ARTICLE. MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION SHALL RECEIVE NO COMPENSATION FOR THEIR SERVICES ON THE COMMISSION.
(2) (a) MEMBERS OF THE INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSION SHALL BE APPOINTED IN THE FOLLOWING MANNER AND ORDER:
(I) ONE MEMBER SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE COLORADO SENATE;
(II) ONE MEMBER SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE COLORADO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES;
(III) ONE MEMBER SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF COLORADO;
(IV) ONE MEMBER SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE COLORADO SUPREME COURT; AND
(V) ONE MEMBER SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE AFFIRMATIVE VOTE OF AT LEAST THREE OF THE FOUR MEMBERS APPOINTED PURSUANT TO SUBPARAGRAPHS (I) TO (IV) OF THIS PARAGRAPH (a).
(b) NO MORE THAN TWO MEMBERS SHALL BE AFFILIATED WITH THE SAME POLITICAL PARTY.
(c) EACH OF THE FIVE MEMBERS SHALL BE REGISTERED COLORADO VOTERS AND SHALL HAVE BEEN CONTINUOUSLY REGISTERED WITH THE SAME POLITICAL PARTY, OR CONTINUOUSLY UNAFFILIATED WITH ANY POLITICAL PARTY, FOR AT LEAST TWO YEARS PRIOR TO APPOINTMENT TO THE COMMISSION.
(d) MEMBERS OF THE INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSION SHALL BE APPOINTED TO TERMS OF FOUR YEARS; EXCEPT THAT, THE FIRST MEMBER APPOINTED BY THE COLORADO SENATE AND THE FIRST MEMBER APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE
STATE OF COLORADO SHALL INITIALLY SERVE TWO YEAR TERMS TO ACHIEVE STAGGERED ENDING DATES.
(e) IF A MEMBER IS APPOINTED TO FILL AN UNEXPIRED TERM, THAT MEMBER'S TERM SHALL END AT THE SAME TIME AS THE TERM OF THE PERSON BEING REPLACED.
(f) EACH MEMBER SHALL CONTINUE TO SERVE UNTIL A SUCCESSOR HAS BEEN APPOINTED,
EXCEPT THAT IF A MEMBER IS UNABLE OR UNWILLING TO CONTINUE TO SERVE UNTIL A SUCCESSOR HAS BEEN APPOINTED, THE ORIGINAL APPOINTING AUTHORITY AS DESCRIBED IN THIS SUBSECTION SHALL FILL THE VACANCY PROMPTLY.
(3) (a) ANY PERSON MAY FILE A WRITTEN COMPLAINT WITH THE INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSION ASKING WHETHER A PUBLIC OFFICER, OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HAS FAILED TO COMPLY WITH THIS ARTICLE OR ANY OTHER STANDARDS OF CONDUCT OR REPORTING REQUIREMENTS AS PROVIDED BY LAW WITHIN THE PRECEDING TWELVE MONTHS.
(b) THE COMMISSION MAY DISMISS FRIVOLOUS COMPLAINTS WITHOUT CONDUCTING A PUBLIC HEARING. COMPLAINTS DISMISSED AS FRIVOLOUS SHALL BE MAINTAINED CONFIDENTIAL BY THE COMMISSION.
(c) THE COMMISSION SHALL CONDUCT AN INVESTIGATION, HOLD A PUBLIC HEARING, AND RENDER FINDINGS ON EACH NON-FRIVOLOUS COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO WRITTEN RULES ADOPTED BY THE COMMISSION.
(d) THE COMMISSION MAY ASSESS PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS AS PRESCRIBED BY THIS ARTICLE AND PROVIDED BY LAW.
(e) THERE IS HEREBY ESTABLISHED A PRESUMPTION THAT THE FINDINGS SHALL BE BASED ON A PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE UNLESS THE COMMISSION DETERMINES THAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES WARRANT A HEIGHTENED STANDARD.
(4) MEMBERS OF THE INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSION SHALL HAVE THE POWER TO SUBPOENA DOCUMENTS AND TO SUBPOENA WITNESSES TO MAKE STATEMENTS AND PRODUCE DOCUMENTS.
(5) ANY PUBLIC OFFICER, OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAY SUBMIT A WRITTEN REQUEST TO THE INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSION FOR AN ADVISORY OPINION ON WHETHER ANY CONDUCT BY THAT PERSON WOULD CONSTITUTE A VIOLATION OF THIS ARTICLE, OR ANY OTHER STANDARDS OF CONDUCT OR REPORTING REQUIREMENTS AS PROVIDED BY LAW. THE COMMISSION SHALL RENDER AN ADVISORY OPINION PURSUANT TO WRITTEN RULES ADOPTED BY THE COMMISSION.
Section 6. Penalty. (a) ANY PUBLIC OFFICER, OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY WHO BREACHES THE PUBLIC TRUST FOR PRIVATE GAIN AND ANY PERSON OR ENTITY INDUCING SUCH BREACH SHALL BE LIABLE TO THE STATE FOR DOUBLE THE AMOUNT OF THE FINANCIAL EQUIVALENT OF ANY BENEFITS OBTAINED BY SUCH ACTIONS.
(b) ANY PUBLIC OFFICER OR MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY WHO RECEIVES A GAIN IN VIOLATION OF SECTION 2, IF IT IS NOT ESTABLISHED THAT THE THERE IS A BREACH THE PUBLIC TRUST FOR PRIVATE GAIN, SHALL BE LIABLE TO THE STATE FOR THE AMOUNT OF THE FINANCIAL EQUIVALENT OF ANY BENEFITS OBTAINED BY SUCH ACTIONS.
(c) THE INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSION MAY REVOKE A PROFESSIONAL LOBBYIST’S REGISTRATION FOR ANY VIOLATION OF THIS ARTICLE.
(d) THE MANNER OF RECOVERY AND ADDITIONAL PENALTIES MAY BE PROVIDED BY LAW.
Section 7. Repealed,
Section 8. Conflicting provisions declared inapplicable, ANY PROVISIONS IN THE STATUTES OF THIS STATE IN CONFLICT OR INCONSISTENT WITH THIS ARTICLE ARE HEREBY DECLARED TO BE PREEMPTED BY THIS ARTICLE AND INAPPLICABLE TO THE MATTERS COVERED BY AND PROVIDED FOR IN THIS ARTICLE.
Section 9. Legislation to facilitate article. LEGISLATION MAY BE ENACTED TO FACILITATE THE OPERATION OF THIS ARTICLE, BUT IN NO WAY SHALL SUCH LEGISLATION LIMIT OR RESTRICT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE OR THE POWERS HEREIN GRANTED.

DPL Downloads

Suppose you want to get onto the download bandwagon and get free high quality content to enjoy in your pajamas, but you don't want to shell out money for iTunes, but don't really want the storm troopers of the RIAA chasing after you either? Or supposed you'd like to get a book from the library when the library isn't open; maybe after the last minute discovery that a kid has a book report due tomorrow, or a rainy day emergency that leaves you with nothing to entertain the kids and work to do.

The answer is DPL Downloads, available to anyone with a Denver Public Library card (about two-thirds of Denver residents do). You can download books, audio books, films, podcasts and more from the Denver Public Library on terms similar to those you've always enjoyed when you borrow real books, for free, using free software (computer not included). Some books on a 21 day borrowing term automatically expire when the term runs out, so you don't have to worry about returning books or late fees. Other books are out of copyright or under some special arrangement with the publisher, so you can keep them forever.

There are several different formats and I've tried most of them with good success so far, although I now have almost as many format specific media access software programs on my computer as I do store loyalty cards in my wallet.

It is all apparently legal (like any copyright geek, I'd be fascinated to know the details, although I have some educated guesses). There are a few bumps in the road associated with getting the software downloaded and set up properly the first time around, and longer media takes a while to download, but e-books aren't huge files. Once it is set up, it is even easier than Amazon.com or iTunes to use.

The new service is a valuable edition to the DPL range of services, which has appeared with very little fanfare. The only way I've grown aware of it at all is seeing the link on the front page of the library website which I previously used only for the card catalog, to renew books, and to see what I have checked out for the every once and a while rush to collect books in every nook and cranny in the house so that they can be returned.