Friday, September 24, 2010

From “Children of the Dump” to College Graduates - An American Success Story

Global American Series
24 September 2010

In 1998 a group of Rotarians traveled to Nicaragua to help deliver aid after Hurricane Mitch had devastated the country. Mitch was so huge that if it had hit Texas that there would have been hurricane force winds in Amarillo – over 500 miles from the coast! While there, they discovered eight hundred children living in a dump, even eating their meals there. That’s when the story changed from hurricane relief to something much bigger.

Today, over 90% of those children are in school. Some have graduated from high school and are in college. Some have graduated from college and are giving back to their community. How this happened is a role model of what America should be doing both inside America and in our aid to other countries.

In 1998, Nicaragua had returned to democracy, after eleven years under Communism. All of the landowners, businesses and educated people had been driven out. No one had any money or job skills. Unemployment was 75% (and we think 9.6% is bad!) But within a few years of help from Rotarians, people were building their own houses, planting gardens that led to profits and food supply on a sustainable basis.

(Keep in mind that the HAMAS charter specifically describes Rotary as an “evil” organization, which means it must be doing the right things).

In this week’s Global American radio series, I interview a key member of the Rotary team that has been involved in this project that has been an incredible success, but only because of the way it was handled.

For more details on how they made this project work in village after village – to the point that the government asked them to help it get its own projects right, tune in Saturday at 9 am to Business 1110 AM, which will be streamed online at It will also be available online 24/7 at

Michael Fjetland
Global American Series
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Sex in Space? Energy? Our unemployment could be 6.5% TODAY

Sex in Space? Energy from Space? Space Jobs?
Our unemployment could be 6.5% TODAY if we had people with the skills

Conservative columnist David Brooks recently said that our 9.6% unemployment rate would be only 6.5% if we filled every empty high tech job available today. That's TODAY - not tomorrow or next year.

The problem? We don’t have people with the skills to fill those jobs!

That is an entirely different problem than creating jobs ("Where are the Jobs?") It turns out the jobs are right here, but we don't have the people with the skills to fill them.

These high tech, high paying jobs will only grow as we enter an era of commercialization of space, which the NASA-trained guest on the Global American radio program this week said is about to become a “trillion dollar business.”

The problem for America is that we aren’t producing people with the high tech skills needed to fill those jobs. Right now Texas ranks 51st in the percentage of adults with a high school diploma – dead last and behind even Washington DC which was included in the study by Brookings (see link):

So, how will America compete in the 21s century with people that don’t have the education to do the high-tech jobs that will drive our economy forward? We could be enjoying a better 6.5% vs. 9.6% problem RIGHT NOW. (So the real question should be: Where is the Training?)

This week the Global American radio program explores the commercialization of space which is producing our next generation of jobs and technology leadership. We also discuss how NASA’s programs have spun off commercial technology from the computer to the heart value used by Dr. DeBakey to save lives.

Did you know that the moon’s soil has both oxygen and water in it (45% oxygen)? Did you know that NASA technology intended for operations on Mars has been taken by entrepreneurs to make fuel cells on earth which use 50% less energy to power buildings for companies such as eBay and Google? Did you know that private companies like Bigelow have invented inflatable space hotels that could house tourists in space?

My guest this Saturday at 9 am Central time is Tom Dingleman, who has worked at NASA and with space technology for over thirty (30) years. He discusses how the “Space Act” allows companies to commercialize any NASA technology they wish. One hitch: NASA is not allowed to advertise that opportunity!

Over 60 countries now have space programs. We may not discuss whether there is sex in space (that subject came up after the interview), but we talk about everything that you need to know about America’s space future -- which is happening right now! Will our people have the training and vision to take advantage of it?

Find out by tuning in on Houston’s Business 1110 AM at 9 am Central time, which is streamed on

It will also be available on our website:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Moderate vs. Conservative Islam: Guess Which One is the Problem?

Most people don't realize that there are different brands of Islam, some moderate and some conservative, just like we have moderate and conservative Christian churches -- such as the Episcopal church versus the "hell fire and brimstone" churches, like the pastor in Florida who wanted to burn the Muslim holy book.

Guess which ones cause all the trouble --the moderates or the conservative believers in Islam?

The poor Pakistan farmers being flooded out mostly practice Sufi Islam, which is downright liberal compared to the ultra conservative Wahhabi version of Islam that Saudi Arabia's leaders have allowed to flourish with our oil money. Saudi's leadership, who belong to the minority Sunni sect, made a "deal with the devil" with the ultraconservative Wahhabi Imams (who don't approve of women drivers, etc.) in order to maintain their power. You may recall that a majority of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia as a result.

In Iran, the same is true - the more radical Shiite fundamentalist conservatives have taken control ever since Ayatollah Khomeini's supporters toppled the Shah.

Wikepedia says this about Sufi's:
"The Islamic Institute in Mannheim, Germany, which works towards the integration of Europe and Muslims, sees Sufism as particularly suited for inter-religious dialogue and intercultural harmonization in democratic and pluralist societies; it has described Sufism as a symbol of tolerance and humanism – undogmatic, flexible and non-violent."

So, there you have it. The trouble doesn't come from the moderates in Islam; it comes from the conservative elements of Islam: namely the Taliban and Al Qaida extremists (who are Sunnis and so they often target Shiite Muslims in Iraq with car bombs). Americans seem to miss the point that the radicals are blowing up Sunni Muslims with the same passion they attack our troops.

Got that? Islamic extremism doesn't come from the poor farmers in Pakistan and their moderate Sufi brand of Islam. It comes from the groups that are given free reign in Saudi Arabia, so every dollar you spend on gas from Saudi, or Venezuela, is helping fund these extremists -- another reason we should embark on energy independence with U. S. produced renewable energy and natural gas. Why finance our own terrorism?

The NASA head of security says that there are 50,000 terrorists in 60 countries. That leaves 1.5 billion Muslims who are not extreme, although idiots like the Florida pastor and the media that give him attention could change that.

Just the IDEA of a Koran burning ignited violent protests in Afghanistan, endangering our troops and nearly a decade of effort to beat back the fundamentalist conservative Taliban. If they win, the Taliban will return to blowing up girls' schools and teaching religious hate, just like when bin laden was there.

So, who is the biggest threat to us?

It's ironic that we are helping the extremists by filling up with gas made from Saudi Arabian oil but are doing little to help the desperate, flooded-out Pakistani farmers who are moderates caught between the Taliban destroying their schools on one side and an indifferent, corrupt government on the other.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 Nine Years Ago: A Day Spent in a TV Station –

How We Could Have a 6.5% Unemployment Rate Today Instead of a Koran Burning

Where were you on 9/11 nine years ago? What were you doing? I was in Houston and spent the day at a TV station as a “terrorism expert.” How’d that happen? Where do we go from here?

How did it happen? I was invited to the Houston Fox 26 station because I had been their “Middle East Expert” during the first Gulf War with Saddam in 1990. Why? Frankly, no one else was available. I was picked because I had been writing a “fiction” book about a flash war in the Middle East (and a terror attack on the U.S.) when Saddam invaded Kuwait. (I had been in international attorney for large companies but was laid off in the Texas 80’s bust. I figured it might produce some “income”). Little did I know that my “fiction” book would become fact within two years: first the Saddam invasion of Kuwait and second, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center (which really was the first attack on the U.S. but got little attention because it killed six people).

On 9/11, we had little idea of who was behind it and what was going on. My book was about Saddam leading such an audacious act, but I was wrong. Osama bin laden had created Al Qaida in the 90’s out of anger of U.S. forces being in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. Bin laden had traveled the world; Saddam never left Iraq. Saddam and bin Laden hated each other – one was religious, the other anything but. It took someone with global experience to come up with the idea of using our own aircraft as flying bombs. It wasn’t the first time anyone had done so: Japanese Kamikaze’s did the same – but with their own planes.

Where are we now, and where are we going? Nine years later, Ground Zero is still just a hole in the ground. Not even the memorial has been completed. We seem to have lost the ability to build things. In California a pipeline over 40 years old exploded. Nearly 25% of our bridges are unsafe, like the one that collapsed in Minnesota over the Mississippi. After decades of complacency and inattention, we need a major infrastructure update - replacing half century old pipelines and old bridges is an investment in our future. China's infrastructure is NEW. This is what we should be doing.

David Brooks pointed out in a thought-provoking article today that our unemployment rate would drop from 9.6% to 6.5% if we had people with technical skills to match the unfilled jobs existing today! Instead, our young people are all trying to be lawyers, accountants or hedge fund managers, which are in overabundance. An example: When I left the legal profession to own and operate a green company, my income level jumped to the highest it had ever been, despite the worst recession in 70 years!

I think the recession has led to the rise in Islamophobia that we see today. I wish people were as concerned about rebuilding America’s infrastructure and skills training.

We could create an entire industry and jobs based on new clean energy, so we can continue being global technology leaders. Yet we seem to be focusing on answers that do not improve infrastructure or training – tax cuts for the top 2% will not increase training of high-skilled technicians nor replace bridges before they collapse or keep citizens safe from pipelines that are a half century old. Nor will it lead to using advanced drilling technology that is available in other countries but not our own.

Like Pearl Harbor, 9/11 was a wakeup call. But the answer is not finding fault with others who are building community centers two blocks from Ground Zero when there is already a Mosque four blocks away. The fault has been our own inability to build our skills or a replacement for the World Trade towers.

That is what America should be thinking about on this nine year anniversary of 9/11.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What Texas Did When Global Recession Hit a Year After Independence

Texas came perilously close to losing its war of independence from Mexico in 1836. It had no army, bullets, guns, shoes or cannon balls. They had to promise, beg, borrow and steal (as it turned out) to finance the tiny army standing against the huge army of Santa Ana.

They had the Texas government on the run after losing battles at Goliad and the Alamo. If it hadn’t been for an entrepreneur pulling up at Harrisburg (part of Houston today) in a steamboat – just as the first Mexican scouts popped over the ridge), the entire government of Texas would have been killed. As it was, they pulled away from the dock as bullets started flying.

And the year after they got independence, Texas was hit by a 5-year global recession. And do you know what they did about it? The answer will surprise you.

You’ll find out on this week’s edition of the “Global American” radio program. It covers not only little known facts about how close Texas came to remaining a part of Mexico (and Sam Houston and Santa Ana’s first meeting under a tree, where Houston was recovering from a bullet in the leg) but it also lays out the parallels between that time and now -- from global recessions to technology leadership.

What are the Global American values? They are the values of our founding fathers -- truth, equality and justice – applied on a global scale.

We also explore what it will take for America to remain a technology leader when China’s economy is predicted to exceed ours sometime in the next few decades. The host has negotiated technology agreements worldwide (as well as international kidnapping and fraud cases) and offers insights you don’t get from radio personalities who don’t have that expertise.

Potential solutions to these complex issues are part of the Global American series. Tune in Saturdays at 9 am Central time on (Houston) Business 1110 AM, streamed live on .

A copy will also be on our website 24/7 at