Interesting article about how the main religious leader in Saudi Arabia called for the destruction of all Christian churches, and advocated this to a terrorist group, no less. This isn't just a fringe guy saying it, it's as if Billy Graham/Pat Robertson/Al Sharpton/Archbishop in the US/President Monson had called for this. It is not insignificant. Excerpt:
Why is it that when Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, the grand mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, declares that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches in the Arabian Peninsula,” the major media do not see this as even worth reporting? And no one, to the best of my knowledge, has noted that he said this to the members of a terrorist group.
This should be emphasized: Al al-Sheikh is not the Arabian equivalent of some backwoods Florida pastor. He is the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, where there is no separation of mosque and state, and the state religion is the ultra-orthodox/fundamentalist reading of Islam known as Wahhabism. He also is a member of the country’s leading religious family.
In other words, his pronouncements represent the official position of Saudi Arabia — a country that, we have been told time and again, changed course after 9/11 and is now our ally and solidly in the anti-terrorism camp.
Teachers are almost impossible to fire, here. If you didn't know, that's actually a bad thing.
In a fight between Texas and California, Texas wins. Long excerpt, that's actually most of the article:
California may be dreaming, but Texas is working.
California’s elected officials are particularly adept at dreaming up ways to spend other people’s money. While the state struggles with interminable deficits caused by years of reckless spending, the argument in Sacramento isn’t over how to reduce government; rather, it’s over how much to raise taxes and on whom. Governor Brown is pushing for a tax increase of $6.9 billion per year, to appear on this November’s ballot. California’s powerful government-employee unions and Molly Munger, a wealthy civil-rights attorney (wealthy by dint of being the daughter of Warren Buffett’s business partner) are offering two competing tax-hike plans. The silver lining may be that having three tax hikes on the ballot will turn voters off all of them.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Texas are grappling with a fiscal question of an entirely different sort: whether or not to spend some of the $6 billion set aside in the state’s rainy-day fund.
California’s government-employee unions routinely spend tens of millions of dollars at election time to maintain their hold on power. In Texas, the government unions are weak and don’t have collective bargaining, leaving trial attorneys as the main source of funding for Lone Star Democrats.
California’s habit of raising taxes to fund a burgeoning regulatory state isn’t without impact on its economy. Californians fork over about 10.6 percent of their income to state and local governments, above the U.S. average of 9.8 percent. Texans pay 7.9 percent. This affects the bottom line of both consumers and businesses.
With that money, Californians pay for more government. The number of non-education bureaucrats in California is close to the national average, at 252 per 10,000 people. Texas gets by with a bureaucracy 22 percent smaller: 196 per 10,000.
While California has more bureaucrats, Texas has 17 percent more teachers, with 295 education employees per 10,000 people, compared to California’s 252.
The two states’ educational outcomes reflect this disparity. If we compare national test scores in math, science, and reading for the fourth and eighth grades among four basic ethnic and racial categories — all students, whites, Hispanics, and African-Americans — Texas beats California in every category, and by a substantial margin. In fact, Texas schools perform consistently above the national average across categories of age, race, and subject matter, while California schools perform well below the national average.
While California seeks more ways to tax success, it excels at subsidizing poverty. The percentage of households receiving public assistance in California was 3.7 percent in 2009, double Texas’s rate of 1.8 percent. Almost one-third of all Americans on welfare reside in California.
And I was going to post about oil here, but I think that will get a post of its own. There you go.