Closing Midwest Waterway Would Disrupt U.S. Economy, Group Says –

via Closing Midwest Waterway Would Disrupt U.S. Economy, Group Says –

A multistate effort to close parts of a key Midwest waterway would hurt the U.S. economy, according to a business-lobby group.

The closure is intended to prevent an invasive fish species from reaching Lake Michigan. Briefs are due with the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday after Michigan’s attorney general last week filed a suit calling for the closure of two locks in a system that links the lake to the Mississippi River.

 Businesses that rely on river transport are lined up against the closure, pointing out the increased costs of ground transportation.   Although the business groups want to prevent the Asian carp from contaminating the Great Lakes and destroying the ecosystem there, they want the Army Corp of Engineers to develop a plan that doesn’t include closing the locks.

The Geography of Recession | STRATFOR


via The Geography of Recession | STRATFOR.

The most important aspect of the United States is not simply its sheer size, but the size of its usable land. Russia and China may both be similar-sized in absolute terms, but the vast majority of Russian and Chinese land is useless for agriculture, habitation or development. In contrast, courtesy of the Midwest, the United States boasts the world’s largest contiguous mass of arable land — and that mass does not include the hardly inconsequential chunks of usable territory on both the West and East coasts.

Second is the American maritime transport system. The Mississippi River, linked as it is to the Red, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee rivers, comprises the largest interconnected network of navigable rivers in the world. In the San Francisco Bay, Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound/New York Bay, the United States has three of the world’s largest and best natural harbors. The series of barrier islands a few miles off the shores of Texas and the East Coast form a water-based highway — an Intracoastal Waterway — that shields American coastal shipping from all but the worst that the elements can throw at ships and ports.

good article on how the US was able to rise to such prominence, while Russia, China, and Europe still struggle.

The Big Mideast News Story that Isn’t “Fit to Print”

The Big Mideast News Story that Isn’t “Fit to Print” | Stephen M. Walt.


Did you know that the Gaza Freedom March — a group of over 1300 peace activists from 43 countries — is protesting the continued siege of Gaza, on the anniversary of the brutal Israeli assault that killed over a thousand people last year?

Did you know that one of the participants in the convoy is an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor (Hedy Epstein), and that she recently began a hunger strike to protest the refusal to let the convoy go to Gaza?

You probably didn’t know about any of this, but it’s not really your fault. You probably get your news from mainstream outlets like the New York Times or Washington Post, and neither of these illustrious newspapers has bothered to cover this story.

The story is being covered extensively in the Arab world, and if you follow it there,

… then you might have a better idea why the Mubarak government isn’t very popular, why Israel faces growing censure for its conduct, why the United States continues to be despised in much of the Arab and Islamic world, and why the blogosphere is so important.

UPDATE: from the NYT

The Egyptian government agreed to let 100 activists into Gaza on Wednesday, according to one of the organizers of the march.

The crossing, at Rafah, Egypt, has been closed for most purposes since the summer of 2007, when the militant group Hamas seized control of Gaza from the rival Western-backed forces of Fatah. Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza, and the Egyptian government, citing its own security needs, closed the crossing, drawing criticism from within Egypt and across the Arab world.

Merry Christmas

Texas Gains Most People in 2008-09, U.S. Census Says


Push-Pull migration:

via Texas Gains Most People in 2008-09, U.S. Census Says (Update2) –

Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) — Texas gained more residents than any other U.S. state as the recession deepened in 2008 and early this year, the Census Bureau said in a report that indicated job seekers migrated to one of the nation’s stronger labor markets.

The state’s population grew by 478,000 in the 12-month period that ended July 1, according to Census estimates released today.

About half of Texas’ 2008-2009 population gain came as the result of migration into the state, while the other half was due to “natural net growth,” or births minus deaths, according to Census.

“Texas gets both a lot of new immigrants and people from internal migration, or movement from state to state,” said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer for Pew. While other factors may influence where people move, “jobs is the main driver,” he said.

Fight to keep Asian carp out of Great Lakes reaches Supreme Court

Fight to keep Asian carp out of Great Lakes reaches Supreme Court —

Posted using ShareThis

The fight to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes reached the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, as Michigan’s attorney general filed a lawsuit seeking closure of two shipping locks near Chicago.
Michigan Atty. Gen. Mike Cox asked justices for immediate action to seal off the most direct route for fish entering Lake Michigan, in hopes of protecting the region’s $7-billion fishing industry.
In addition to closing the locks, the lawsuit seeks creation of barriers to prevent carp from escaping the Des Plaines River or neighboring waterways during flooding.

Winter Solstice 2009: Facts on Shortest Day of the Year

via Winter Solstice 2009: Facts on Shortest Day of the Year.

Today is the winter solstice and the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s all due to Earth’s tilt, which ensures that the shortest day of every year falls around December 21.

The article discusses ancient practices centered around the solstice, as well as the beginnings of “christmas.”

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