Tuesday, May 19, 2009

News Talk Online May 19, 2009: The UK Sex Scandal, Aid To Pakistan & Obama's Car Emissions Standards

If Americans were to hear or see the headline, "House Speaker Resigns" they would undoubtedly think it referred to Nancy Pelosi who is embroiled in a controversy with the CIA about what she knew and when about waterboarding of terrorist suspects. But today's announcement about the resignation of a House speaker comes, not from Washington, but from London, where Michael Martin is stepping down as leader of the House of Commons for his mismanagement of a parliamentary expense scandal that included such things as swimming pools, moat and pornography.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced a $110 million aid package for Pakistan due to the displacement of as many as 1.5 million civilians as a result of fighting between the army and the Taliban in the Swat region.

The United States needed to do this of course because it has encouraged the Pakistani government to take the fight to the Taliban. But in making the announcement, Clinton also acknowledged the United States' role in making the Taliban a military power by arming the Mujaheddin during its war with the then-Soviet Union.

Finally, President Obama announced today new emissions and MPG standards for new automobiles. They'll have to get 35.5 MPG by 2016. A laudable goal, but one must wonder if now, while the automobile industry is hanging by a thread, is the time for such an announcement.

Perhaps worse, the federal government is dictating standards that will make the cars of the future cost more. Which means car owners will have to absorb those costs when they purchase their cars. With the economy in a near-depression forcing people to make difficult financial choices, buying a more expensive new car may be something they just can't afford to do.

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