Daily Archive: 01/25/2011

Jan 25 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 41 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Tunisia to shake up cabinet as US presses for vote

by Ines Bel Aiba and Hassan El Fekih, AFP

52 mins ago

TUNIS (AFP) – Tunisia’s interim government prepared a major shake-up as protesters on Tuesday kept up daily rallies calling for key allies of the country’s ousted regime to quit and Washington pressed for elections.

Government spokesman Taieb Baccouch was quoted by the state news agency TAP as saying a cabinet reshuffle would be announced on Wednesday. He earlier told AFP that the changes would involve at least six ministerial posts.

But a source close to the government said that talks over the possible replacement of the defence, foreign and interior ministers were “blocked”.

Jan 25 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is 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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Bob Herbert: Raising False Alarms

If there’s a better government program than Social Security, I’d like to know what it is.

It has gone a long way toward eliminating poverty among the elderly. Great numbers of them used to live and die in ghastly, Dickensian conditions of extreme want. Without Social Security today, nearly half of all Americans aged 65 or older would be poor. With it, fewer than 10 percent live in poverty.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities tells us that close to 90 percent of people 65 and older get at least some of their family income from Social Security. For more than half of the elderly, it provides the majority of their income. For many, it is the only income they have. . . . . .

We need a reality check. Attacking Social Security is both cruel and unnecessary. It needs to stop.

New York Times Editorial: What Comes After No?

The Republicans have vowed to “repeal and replace” President Obama’s historic health care reform law. Now that House Republicans have muscled through a symbolic repeal bill, they will have to deliver their own alternative plan. Don’t expect much.

There are many more slogans than details. But it is already clear that their approach would do almost nothing to control skyrocketing health care costs and would provide little help to the 50 million uninsured Americans.

Eugene Robinson: In the GOP’s budget, a surplus of spite

Despite what you might have heard, the coming battle on Capitol Hill is not really about “government spending” in the abstract. It’s about two radically different visions of how money should be spent.

Republicans who feign attacks of the vapors and fainting spells over the big, scary deficit would be more convincing if they didn’t begin with the insane premise that defense spending should be sacrosanct. The House leadership in the past few days has begun to signal retreat from this indefensible position, but it’s unclear how much of the hyper-conservative GOP majority will follow.

Robert Reich: The State of the Union and the Federal Budget: Investing in America’s Future

Word has it that the president will be emphasizing “improving American competitiveness” in his State of the Union Address Tuesday night. As I’ve noted, the term is meaningless — but it’s politically useful. CEOs and many conservatives think it means improving the profitability of American companies. Liberals and labor unions think it means increasing export jobs.

Neither touches at the heart of the matter. Hopefully, the president will. Over the long term, the only way to improve the living standards of most Americans is to invest in our people — especially their educations, skills, and the communications and transportation systems linking them together and with the rest of the world (infrastructure).

Jan 25 2011

On This Day in History January 25

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

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 25 is the 25th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 340 days remaining until the end of the year (341 in leap years).

On this day in 1905, the world’s largest diamond is found. At the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, a 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection by the mine’s superintendent. Weighing 1.33 pounds, and christened the “Cullinan,” it was [the largest diamond ever found.

The Cullinan diamond is the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found, at 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g).

The largest polished gem from the stone is named Cullinan I or the Great Star of Africa, and at 530.4 carats (106.1 g) was the largest polished diamond in the world until the 1985 discovery of the Golden Jubilee Diamond, 545.67 carats (109.13 g), also from the Premier Mine. Cullinan I is now mounted in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross. The second largest gem from the Cullinan stone, Cullinan II or the Lesser Star of Africa, at 317.4 carats (63.5 g), is the fourth largest polished diamond in the world. Both gems are in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

History

The Cullinan diamond was found by Frederick Wells, surface manager of the Premier Diamond Mining Company in Cullinan, on January 26, 1905. The stone was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the diamond mine.

Sir William Crookes performed an analysis of the Cullinan diamond before it was cut and mentioned its remarkable clarity, but also a black spot in the middle. The colours around the black spot were very vivid and changed as the analyzer was turned. According to Crookes, this pointed to internal strain. Such strain is not uncommon in diamonds.

The stone was bought by the Transvaal government and presented to King Edward VII on his birthday. It was cut into three large parts by Asscher Brothers of Amsterdam, and eventually into 9 large gem-quality stones and a number of smaller fragments. At the time, technology had not yet evolved to guarantee quality of the modern standard, and cutting the diamond was considered difficult and risky. In order to enable Asscher to cut the diamond in one blow, an incision was made, half an inch deep. Then, a specifically designed knife was placed in the incision and the diamond was split in one heavy blow. The diamond split through a defective spot, which was shared in both halves of the diamond.

Jan 25 2011

Six In The Morning

Next They’ll Be Charging You For The Oxygen You Breathe    



Airlines’ path for profits: Fly less, charge more

After a decade of multibillion-dollar losses, U.S. airlines appear to be on course to prosper for years to come for a simple reason: They are flying less.

By grounding planes and eliminating flights, airlines have cut costs and pushed fares higher. As the global economy rebounds, travel demand is rising and planes are as full as they’ve been in years.

Profit margins at big airlines are the highest in at least a decade, according to the government. The eight largest U.S. airlines are forecast to earn more than $5 billion this year and $5.6 billion in 2012.U.S. airlines are in the midst of reporting fourth-quarter results that should cap the industry’s first moneymaking year since 2007.

“The industry is in the best position – certainly in a decade – to post profitability,” says Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly. “The industry is much better prepared today than it was a decade ago.”

Jan 25 2011

Is Obama Right to Reach Out to Big Business?

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich explains whether President Barack Obama’s new approach will create more jobs or send those jobs overseas.

Jan 25 2011

Prime Time

Lots of premiers.  No Keith day one.  Frankly I can’t think of a single reason to watch the Prison Porn channel anymore.

A good night to read a book or write a diary.

I don’t belong here, I feel it, don’t you think I feel it. I can’t do any of these vile things and I wouldn’t WANT to. Oh, my life is like death. My children are the spawn of hell, and you’re the devil. Oh God.

But baby, we LIKE you.

Later-

Dave in repeats from 1/6.  Jon has Anand Giridharadas (get a Wiki page!), Stephen Charlie Rose.  Alton does Grilling and Barbecue.  Conan hosts Shaun White and Iron & Wine.

My children are in need of medical assistance! And you can sit here and smugly lecture me on the importance of tests? Tests which exist to pigeonhole childrens potential, a thing which cannot *possibly* be measured, least of all by anal compulsive HUNS! And my husband may be a “large child,” but that’s none of your business! And my children may be rotten, but they’re MINE. And I think that they’re bright, and sensitive, so I have no doubts whatsoever about their intelligence. I do however have *serious* doubts about YOURS.

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