July and August 2007
By Alan W. Dowd

Better Grades for Earth
The Pacific Research Institute and American Enterprise Institute have released a new report of leading environmental indicators in the U.S., highlighting “positive trends occurring in key areas such as national forests, air quality, toxic chemicals and biodiversity.” For instance: 

-Net loss of forests has fallen from 8.9 million hectares annually in the 1990s to 7.3 million in the 2000s.
-Soil erosion rates have decreased by 43 percent since 1982.
-Methane emissions are down 12.8 percent since 1990.
-Ozone levels are down in major cities like Los Angeles.
-The number of Bald Eagle nests has hit four figures in Wisconsin, after falling to barely 100 in 1973. Likewise, Red Salmon are spawning in the 60,000 range, up from just 2,654 in the 1970s.

Read more at http://www.pacificresearch.org/.

NYPD Powder Blue
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked New York City to lend some of its police officers to UN peacekeeping operations overseas. “New York City has one of the most diversified police forces around,” UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told the Associated Press. “The secretary general would like to explore possibilities.” 

The UN has 16 peacekeeping missions currently underway, with 321 American police officers deployed, most of them in Kosovo.

Prime Minister’s Payday
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore and his cabinet are getting a raise. Starting next year, the prime minister will earn just over $2 million annually, and cabinet-level ministers will earn $1.26 million. As The International Herald Tribune reports, the 60-percent increase in the already-gaudy salaries of Singapore’s top-level government officials is the outgrowth of a 1994 law “pegging the salaries of government ministers and top civil servants to the money the might earn at the top of the private sector.” The formula used to determine the raise factors in professions such as accounting, law, banking, engineering and manufacturing.

Here’s how Singapore’s salary system compares to other nations: 

Prime Minister of Singapore $2 million
President of the United States $440,000
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom $370,000          
Prime Minister of Japan $360,000
Chancellor of Germany $350,000

As a contributing editor to The American Legion, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.