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Headline contest

April 9, 2009 Leave a comment

This would be the awesome subject for a headline contest – some suggestions at the end:

How Obama voted on war funding bills in Congress
By The Associated Press – 25 minutes ago

Major war-funding legislation while Barack Obama was in the Senate, and how he voted:

_May 2005: Congress approved an $82 billion bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and international anti-terrorism efforts. Obama voted yes.

_June 2006: Congress cleared a $94.5 billion bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as provide aid to hurricane victims. Obama voted yes.

_September 2006: Congress cleared a $448 billion Pentagon funding bill that included $70 billion for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama voted yes.

_April 2007: Congress cleared a $124 billion spending bill that provided $90 billion for war costs but mandated the withdrawal of U.S. troops within six months. Obama voted yes, but President George W. Bush vetoed the legislation.

_May 2007: Congress approved a roughly $100 billion spending measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and domestic projects, including hurricane relief. Obama voted no.

_December 2007: Congress cleared a $555 billion catchall spending bill that included $70 billion for U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama did not vote.

_June 2008: Congress approved a measure to spend $162 billion for war costs as well as provide a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits and emergency relief for the flood-ravaged Midwest. Obama voted yes.

Note the one bill that Obama votes ‘no’ for, also contained hurricane relief funds. Who is this guy?

And for the headline contest/cartoon options:
* Yawn, so which year is this again? Dang, I slept for a whole year???!!!
* Hey, did you remember that story I bumped off eighteen months ago? Yes, that one – go, press ‘publish’ now.
* “Google”? What’s that? I do all my research in old, dusty libraries with no indexing systems.
* My post was eaten by a desert lizard – you know how slow their metabolism is.
* I was waiting to publish the story as a lead-in to his announcement of withdrawl from Iraq and Afghanistan. But now that it’s a surge instead…..
* I’m a Republican – this is my way of showing pride in, and support for, our President!

* I was waiting to see if he was going to flip flop on his Senate votes too.

* Present.

Importing not just fruits of business, but also business models

April 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Papers in Michigan cut home delivery to only thrice a week starting this week, in order to save costs. But why are European newspapers doing better?

But there are signs of journalistic life in Europe. Circulation is falling more slowly than in the United States. Most papers have been less affected by the recession than their American counterparts because they rely on readers more than on advertisers, who tend to be more fickle.

Would explain not just financial health but also journalism quality in the US, wouldn’t it?

Sadly, Indian papers seem to be doing things the Yankee way. Duh.

$ no more reserve currency?

March 24, 2009 Leave a comment

This is HUGE:

China will propose the new world ‘currency’ with reserve status, in fact a basket of major currencies as defined by the IMF Special Drawing Rights, at the G20 meeting on April 2.

This will have some serious implications for everybody. And it basically means that as US citizens are now seeing their credit card statements come due, so is their government. Good that it’s going to happen, bad for the people it’ll hurt.

See my earlier post here – this may just be the beginnings of a brave, new, equal world.

Change is here. Truly.

[edited for grammar, punctuation]

Categories: corruption, economics

"Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles, he’s gone!"

March 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Muthalik banned from Mangalore

NEW DELHI: A Mangalore court on Monday banned Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik from entering Dakshina Kannada district for one year. Muthalik’s Ram Sene was involved in an attack in a Mangalore pub in January, 2009. …The order by district magistrate V Ponnuraj came into effect immediately, the spokesperson said by phone from Mangalore. ….A group of 40 activists of the Sri Ram Sene barged into a pub in Mangalore and bashed up a group of young women and men, claiming the women were violating traditional Indian values.

Satisfyingly strong stuff by district magistrate V Ponnuraj there. But I wonder – will this just mean Muthalik gets even more free publicity and a great deal of sympathy? Can he pretend that he of the Ram Sene is like “Lord Ram, exiled from his motherland”, and cash in on the unintended (?) symmetry of their situations? Will Muthalik be the simple son of the soil who’s been subjected to separation from his sustenance by those very shoppers of sin, those suppliers of superficiality he’d been trying to shut-down in his saloon-strike?

Meanwhile, I do see Ponnuraj’s pov too. Especially in an election year, you don’t want moronic misogynists making a mockery of the (mis)rule of law. But if Muthalik can’t do mayhem in Mangalore, where is he going to do so? Because his mischief-causing mind isn’t going to become milder with mitigated means.

Will Muthalik see sense? Will the Sene make a-mends?

Moody goes to economics class – and comes out unhurt

March 6, 2009 Leave a comment

India loses investor appeal: Moody’s

When you read a headline like the one above, you know (if you already don’t) that rating agencies are as ridiculous as, say, journalists. Rating agencies are supposed to predict future performance, based on data, intuition, industry knowledge. Given that India’s economy is still supposed to grow at a 5-7% this year (5% as per the Economist, 7% as per the Government) – in a year when most global economies are tanking heavily, contracting and barely standing still – I’d say Moody’s is as wrong as ever. In fact, they sound a little peeved that their recommendations on reducing interest rates were not heard by the government.

Of course they have so much credibility, since their – and everyone’s – excellent judgement in the 1980’s for Japan worked so fine, didn’t it. So what are Moody’s reasons for the outright downgrade?

Moody’s stated “big concern” is the government’s debt: “One of the core concerns is the unsustainable fiscal position. …,” says Sherman Chan, economist at Moody’s Economy.com.

How worrisome is this worry? Apparently, from here and here, quite:

…the budget deficit is expected to balloon to 6.1% of GDP in fiscal year
2008/09 (April-March) and remain at 6% in 2009/10, but it should then narrow
gradually, to reach 3.6% of GDP by the end of the forecast period.

Compare this to the US’s projected deficit of 12.3% of GDP:

An eye-popping $1.75 trillion deficit for the 2009 fiscal year underlined the
heavy blow the deep recession has dealt to the country’s finances as Obama
unveiled his first budget. That is the highest ever in dollar terms, and amounts
to a 12.3 percent share of the economy — the largest since 1945. In 2010, the
deficit would dip to a still-huge $1.17 trillion, Obama predicted.

So, 6% of GDP vs. 12.3% of GDP. Of course, the rating of the United States is correspondingly affected. Not!:

Still some analysts noted than an outright default was actually impossible,
since the United States only owes money in dollars and could therefore simply
print cash. In that case, inflation would be the more likely outcome.

“The U.S. is not going to default. It’s silly,” said Joseph LaVorgna,
chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities. “The U.S. was, at its peak,
roughly almost 30 percent of world GDP. The U.S. may inflate its way out of its
debt obligations, but it will not default on its debt obligations.”

So easy, no? Not just do you print yourself out of your debt to your citizens, you print yourself out of debt to others, because YOU define the MONEY and YOU make the money. And therefore, you can never be downgraded, and Moody can never really be miffed with you and send out stupid reports.

Looks like it’s time to design a currency symbol for the Indian Rupee too. That’ll solve everything and make Moody change his mood to “happy”, no?

Weird connections

March 4, 2008 Leave a comment

So the Obama campaign’s clumsy hypocrisy has been caught – (unfortunately?). I just saw CNN’s Anderson Cooper (maybe – or his twin) just complained petulantly about ‘why is the Canadian government releasing confidential information’ – as if it’s already ‘PR’esident Obama who’s discussing important US national security issues as an equal with a foreign country.

Some of the back story here:

  • Washington Post notes that the story tumbled out with a lot of help from Nedra Pickler:
    Courtesy of Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press, we now have a contemporaneous account of what took place at the Feb. 8 meeting between a senior Obama campaign official, Austan Goolsbee, and the Canadian consul-general in Chicago, Georges Rioux. The AP obtained a 1300-word memo describing the meeting by a Canadian consulate official, Joseph DeMora.
  • 2004 was the year that the Democrats (Kerry) really outdid themselves by working very hard to lose the easiest battle ever vs. the weakest opponent, most incompetent, boring sitting duck US President – George W. Bush. And at the start of this campaign, since it’s always a question about money, it was the then DNC chair Terry McAuliffe’s idea to delay declaring John Kerry as the Democratic nominee just so he could continue raising money through March. It was a good idea, but ethically grey – and could cause great damage to Kerry’s image of integrity. And that’s just what happened: the first time Kerry sat down to discuss this with ten of his campaign staff, the news leaked out via someone’s blackberry DURING this meeting to a reporter. Terry was furious, as he writes in What a Party. Guess who the reporter was? Nedra Pickler. And Kerry claimed to know which one of his ten people the Judas was, but he never revealed the name – for some reason.

Now that Kerry’s on the side of Obama, maybe he’ll help spot the person who leaked the news. I’m sure it’s crossed Terry’s mind, since he’s working very hard for Clinton.