Daily Archive: 10/04/2010

Oct 04 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Europe triumph in thrilling Ryder Cup finale

by Rob Woollard, AFP

1 hr 21 mins ago

NEWPORT, Wales (AFP) – Europe defeated the United States to win the Ryder Cup here on Monday, prevailing in a thrilling contest to finally overcome a gutsy American fightback.

US Open champion Graeme McDowell was the hero for the Europeans, holding his nerve to close out a three and one victory over world number 16 Hunter Mahan amid joyous scenes at Celtic Manor.

The victory avenged Europe’s defeat to the Americans at Valhalla two years ago and was witnessed by an estimated 35,000 fans, who turned out in droves to see the first Monday finish in the history of the competition.

Oct 04 2010

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Matt Taibbi: Tea & Crackers

How corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster

The world is changing all around the Tea Party. The country is becoming more black and more Hispanic by the day. The economy is becoming more and more complex, access to capital for ordinary individuals more and more remote, the ability to live simply and own a business without worrying about Chinese labor or the depreciating dollar vanished more or less for good. They want to pick up their ball and go home, but they can’t; thus, the difficulties and the rancor with those of us who are resigned to life on this planet.

Of course, the fact that we’re even sitting here two years after Bush talking about a GOP comeback is a profound testament to two things: One, the American voter’s unmatched ability to forget what happened to him 10 seconds ago, and two, the Republican Party’s incredible recuperative skill and bureaucratic ingenuity. This is a party that in 2008 was not just beaten but obliterated, with nearly every one of its recognizable leaders reduced to historical-footnote status and pinned with blame for some ghastly political catastrophe. There were literally no healthy bodies left on the bench, but the Republicans managed to get back in the game anyway by plucking an assortment of nativist freaks, village idiots and Internet Hitlers out of thin air and training them into a giant ball of incoherent resentment just in time for the 2010 midterms. They returned to prominence by outdoing Barack Obama at his own game: turning out masses of energized and disciplined supporters on the streets and overwhelming the ballot box with sheer enthusiasm.

The bad news is that the Tea Party’s political outrage is being appropriated, with thanks, by the Goldmans and the BPs of the world. The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is that those interests mostly have us by the balls anyway, no matter who wins on Election Day. That’s the reality; the rest of this is just noise. It’s just that it’s a lot of noise, and there’s no telling when it’s ever going to end.

New York Times Editorial: First Monday

The Supreme Court enjoys all but free rein in selecting which cases to review. From the end of one term in the summer until the start of the next, on the first Monday in October, the work of the court is to sift through thousands of petitions from parties that lost in one of the federal appeals courts or highest state courts and are eager for the justices to reverse their fate.

The kinds of petitioners favored say a lot about the court’s interests and biases. The Warren court, eager to champion individual rights, chose a large number of petitions from downtrodden people. The Rehnquist court, looking for opportunities to vindicate states’ rights, favored petitions from the states.

Oct 04 2010

“Even Jesus couldn’t save their souls”

BP and the Feds have fooled America and the entire world into thinking the BP Gulf Oil Spill is over, that the beaches are clean and that the seafood is safe, and everything is OK.

Titled “The Gulf Oil Spill isn’t over!” here’s a little bit of mournful Louisiana blues to tell the real story.

Let’s make this one viral…



Uploaded to YouTube Oct. 02, 2010 by:

Holt Webb – writer/photographer & publisher of

The Vanishing America Project

http://vanishingamerica.net

a multi-year journey I’ve undertaken to use my skill as a photographer and a writer to promote conservation and raise awareness about what we are losing – our culture, our wildlife, and our landscape – in hopes that some of it will still be around for future generations to enjoy.

Hat tip to Alexander Higgins who for months on his blog has been collecting every bit of news you can imagine about the BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil catastrophe.

Oct 04 2010

Definitions

mr money bagsMonday Business Edition

Economics isn’t much of a science.

Sure they try and dress it up with the maths and produce the pretty graph, but in the end the letters are all just acronyms designed to make words look like numbers and somehow impart the dignity of 2 + 2 = 4 to arguments considerably more specious (a hard currency pun).

Take for instance Keynesian.  Today it’s being thrown as a slur and adopted to include almost anything that’s not related to Monetary policy and a Friedmanite/Greenspan fantasy land where government employment doesn’t produce anything of value (otherwise Capitalists would be doing it, by definition) and the concept of ‘public good’ is unknown.

The 2 leading schools of economic thought in the United States are the Freshwater School centered on the University of Chicago where Friedman taught and the Saltwater School which would be every one else.  Krugman has an essential summary.

But they’re both Monetarist Schools and Monetary Policy prescriptions don’t work when you have zero interest rates and incredible liquidity but your problems are under capacity utilization, over supply, and lack of aggregate demand.  You can’t push a string.

Then you need Fiscal Policy and deficits don’t matter.  We’ve grown or devalued our way out of every deficit we’ve ever had, our Currency is Sovereign (when I pay off my T-Bills I give you nice shiny greenbacks and tell you they taste great in a vinagrette), and who gives a rat’s ass about devaluation anyway, the only people it hurts are bankers and billionaires and they both deserve a spanking (some prefer the haircut metaphor).

My point about labels is this-  my views about macro economics, political economy, are what is properly called Neo-Classical Synthesis believe it or not because they’re grounded in Samuelson’s seminal 1948 Economics.  Krugman, DeLong, Stiglitz, Reich, etc. get called Neo Keyesians but that’s not what they’re really about, they’re all Samuelson Neo-Classicists.  Part of the problem with academic debate is that there has to be some otherwise you might lose your phony baloney job or, even worse, go out and teach some smelly undergraduates instead of sitting in your office writing papers.

Neo Liberal is an entirely different philosophy, but because lazy and stupid media people think anything new is Neo even though they live in the matrix and Liberal is Goldwater and Nixon, that one gets thrown around a lot too.

Krugman

The point is that we have perfectly good models  for thinking about the state we’re in – models in which we can describe what all the agents are doing and why, models that have done a very good job in terms of predicting how events have proceeded. Moving back and forth between simple new Keynesian models and their IS-LM translations, it was straightforward to show that a huge expansion in the monetary base could and would go along with continuing disinflation, that massive government borrowing would not cause an interest rate spike, and so on.

So what’s wrong with my “one model to rule them all”? Well, it doesn’t easily translate into anything that looks like monetarism – for a good reason: when short-term interest rates are near zero, the distinction between the monetary base, which the central bank controls, and the much broader class of safe short term assets, which it doesn’t, more or less vanishes. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature; it says that when you’re in a liquidity trap, thinking in terms of the supply and demand for money is just not a helpful way to approach the issues.

More Krugman

But maybe this is an opportunity to reiterate a point I try to make now and then: economics is not a morality play. It’s not a happy story in which virtue is rewarded and vice punished. The market economy is a system for organizing activity – a pretty good system most of the time, though not always – with no special moral significance. The rich don’t necessarily deserve their wealth, and the poor certainly don’t deserve their poverty; nonetheless, we accept a system with considerable inequality because systems without any inequality don’t work. And before the trolls jump in to say aha, Krugman concedes the truth of supply-side economics, that’s not an argument against progressive taxation and the welfare state; it’s just an argument that says that there are limits. Cuba doesn’t work; Sweden works pretty well.

And when we’re experiencing depression economics, by which I mean a situation in which it’s hard to create sufficient demand to achieve full employment – mainly because short-term interest rates are up against the zero lower bound – the essentially amoral nature of economics becomes even more acute. As I’ve said repeatedly, this is a situation in which virtue becomes vice and prudence is folly; what we need above all is for someone to spend more, even if the spending isn’t particularly wise.

The trouble in practice is that conventional modes of thought tend to prevail even when they shouldn’t; in particular, public spending on the scale needed never seems to happen. That’s why Keynes facetiously proposed burying bottles full of cash in coal mines, so people could dig them up again: since any proposal to spend money on things we need got shot down on grounds of prudence and efficiency, he proposed completely pointless spending instead.

Still More Krugman

What I’d say about America now is that we have big problems, very much including too much talent going into financial fiddling, too few people who actually make stuff – actually, I worry as much or more about machinists as I do about scientists and engineers. But that observation has virtually no bearing on high unemployment right now. So I’d hope we can walk and chew gum at the same time, appreciating the structural problems but not letting that understanding get in the way of fighting the immediate jobs crisis.

Robert Reich

My argument is just to opposite. For three decades American consumers managed to maintain demand despite flat real wages. They did this by sending women into paid work, working longer hours, and then borrowing to the hilt. But all these coping mechanisms have come to an end. So it’s only now that we have to face the reality that most Americans have not shared in America’s prosperity.

Now with 26 Stories from Yahoo Business News.

Oct 04 2010

On This Day in History: October 4

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

October 4 is the 277th day of the year (278th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 88 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1883, the Orient Express commences its first run.

The Orient Express is the name of a long-distance passenger train, the route for which has changed considerably in modern times. The first run of The Orient Express was on 4 October 1883. The train travelled from Paris to Giurgiu in Romania, via Munich and Vienna. At Giurgiu, passengers were ferried across the Danube to Ruse in Bulgaria to pick up another train to Varna. From here they completed their journey to Istanbul by ferry.

The Orient Express was the name of a long-distance passenger train originally operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. Its route has changed many times, and several routes have in the past concurrently used the name, or slight variants thereof. Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name has become synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel. The two city names most intimately associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Istanbul, the original endpoints of the service.

The original route, which first ran on October 4, 1883, was from Paris, Gare de l’Est, to Giurgiu in Romania via Munich and Vienna. At Giurgiu, passengers were ferried across the Danube to Rousse in Bulgaria to pick up another train to Varna, from where they completed their journey to Istanbul (then called Constantinople) by ferry. In 1885, another route began operations, this time reaching Istanbul via rail from Vienna to Belgrade and Nis, carriage to Plovdiv and rail again to Istanbul.

In 1889, the train’s eastern terminus became Varna in Bulgaria, where passengers could take a ship to Istanbul. On June 1, 1889, the first non-stop train to Istanbul left Paris (Gare de l’Est). Istanbul remained its easternmost stop until May 19, 1977. The eastern terminus was the Sirkeci Terminal by the Golden Horn. Ferry service from piers next to the terminal would take passengers across the Bosporus Strait to Haydarpasa Terminal, the terminus of the Asian lines of the Ottoman railways.

The onset of World War I in 1914 saw Orient Express services suspended. They resumed at the end of hostilities in 1918, and in 1919 the opening of the Simplon Tunnel allowed the introduction of a more southerly route via Milan, Venice and Trieste. The service on this route was known as the Simplon Orient Express, and it ran in addition to continuing services on the old route. The Treaty of Saint-Germain contained a clause requiring Austria to accept this train: formerly, Austria allowed international services to pass through Austrian territory (which included Trieste at the time) only if they ran via Vienna. The Simplon Orient Express soon became the most important rail route between Paris and Istanbul.

The 1930s saw the zenith of Orient Express services, with three parallel services running: the Orient Express, the Simplon Orient Express, and also the Arlberg Orient Express, which ran via Zürich and Innsbruck to Budapest, with sleeper cars running onwards from there to Bucharest and Athens. During this time, the Orient Express acquired its reputation for comfort and luxury, carrying sleeping-cars with permanent service and restaurant cars known for the quality of their cuisine. Royalty, nobles, diplomats, business people and the bourgeoisie in general patronized it. Each of the Orient Express services also incorporated sleeping cars which had run from Calais to Paris, thus extending the service right from one edge of continental Europe to the other.

The start of the Second World War in 1939 again interrupted the service, which did not resume until 1945. During the war, the German Mitropa company had run some services on the route through the Balkans, but partisans frequently sabotaged the track, forcing a stop to this service.

Following the end of the war, normal services resumed except on the Athens leg, where the closure of the border between Yugoslavia and Greece prevented services from running. That border re-opened in 1951, but the closure of the Bulgaria-Turkey border from 1951 to 1952 prevented services running to Istanbul during that time. As the Iron Curtain fell across Europe, the service continued to run, but the Communist nations increasingly replaced the Wagon-Lits cars with carriages run by their own railway services.

By 1962, the Orient Express and Arlberg Orient Express had stopped running, leaving only the Simplon Orient Express. This was replaced in 1962 by a slower service called the Direct Orient Express, which ran daily cars from Paris to Belgrade, and twice weekly services from Paris to Istanbul and Athens.

In 1971, the Wagon-Lits company stopped running carriages itself and making revenues from a ticket supplement. Instead, it sold or leased all its carriages to the various national railway companies, but continued to provide staff for the carriages. 1976 saw the withdrawal of the Paris-Athens direct service, and in 1977, the Direct Orient Express was withdrawn completely, with the last Paris-Istanbul service running on May 19 of that year.

The withdrawal of the Direct Orient Express was thought by many to signal the end of Orient Express as a whole, but in fact a service under this name continued to run from Paris to Budapest and Bucharest as before (via Strasbourg, Munich, and Budapest). This continued until 2001, when the service was cut back to just Paris-Vienna, the coaches for which were attached to the Paris-Strasbourg express. This service continued daily, listed in the timetables under the name Orient Express, until June 8, 2007. However, with the opening of the Paris-Strasbourg high speed rail line on June 10, 2007, the Orient Express service was further cut back to Strasbourg-Vienna, departing nightly at 22:20 from Strasbourg, and still bearing the name.

Oct 04 2010

Morning Shinbun Monday October 4




Monday’s Headlines:

Vagueness of alert leaves travelers frustrated

Biodiversity 100: actions for the Americas

USA

Parties’ economic plans: Blame the other guys

Interest-group spending for midterm up fivefold from 2006; many sources secret

Europe

Outsiders: The trouble with the Roma

Preliminary results show Bosnians divided on vote

Middle East

Israeli PM ignoring all real issues in talks, sources say

Asia

Ahmed Wali Karzai: ‘The stories are very hurtful. The only thing I haven’t been accused of is prostitution’

Maoists on the rise in lopsided economy

Africa

All is not fair on the rocky road to the DRC

Latin America

Brazil presidential elections head for second-round

Oct 04 2010

Pique the Geek 20101003: Sustainability: Water Purification

We have been talking about sustainability recently, and one of the resources in most jeopardy is fresh water.  In the United States the freshwater problem is becoming more and more significant, and in many parts of the world it is already desperate.  We shall look at some of the methods used to purify nonpotable water tonight.

First of all, we need to understand what kind of water we are purifying.  It ranges in quality from surface or ground freshwater, requiring only minor treatment to eliminate microbes that might cause disease (the vast majority of drinking and industrial water in the United States comes from these sources), all the way to seawater, with lots of intermediate kinds.

Oct 04 2010

Prime Time

Premiers are back.  Amazing Race for my friend who likes that, Simpsons, Cleveland Show, Family Guy, and American Dad for me.   In Throwball, Bears @ Giants.  Mets lose 2 – 1 in 14, 79 – 83 on the season.

Later-

Adult Swim- New Childrens Hospital and Metalocalypse.  The Venture Brothers, Everybody Comes to Hank’s.  Last week’s Every Which Way But Zeus summary.

Just get up off the ground, that’s all I ask. Get up there with that lady that’s up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won’t just see scenery; you’ll see the whole parade of what Man’s carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so’s he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That’s what you’d see. There’s no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And, uh, if that’s what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we’d better get those boys’ camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it’s not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light. They’re right here; you just have to see them again!

Oct 04 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 41 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Troubled Games come alive in fortress Delhi

by Martin Parry, AFP

Sun Oct 3, 12:50 pm ET

NEW DELHI (AFP) – The troubled Commonwealth Games sparked into life with a pulsating opening ceremony on Sunday in a fortress-like New Delhi after a shambolic run-up that threatened to derail the event.

Britain’s Prince Charles, representing his mother Queen Elizabeth II, formally declared the start of the sporting showpiece at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium after a last-minute scramble to get ready went to the wire.

He read a message from the Queen that said it was fitting that the Games were being held in Delhi after the recent celebration of the 60th anniversary of Indian independence.