The Utter Meaninglessness of the Debt Ceiling Deal
August 01, 2011
Twenty-six years ago—as part of the price for raising the federal debt ceiling to a shocking $2 trillion—Congress, in a wave of fiscal self-flagellation, approved the Gramm-Rudman bill. If a spendthrift Congress failed to meet prescribed deficit targets, then Gramm-Rudman would slice the budget with the across-the-board subtlety of Sweeney Todd. That was the theory anyway, although legislative maneuvering left about half the budget (including Social Security, Medicare, and Defense contracts) off limits to meat-cleaver deficit reduction.
Elmer Pratt, the prominent Black Panther known by his nom de guerre, Geronimo ji-Jaga, died at 63 on June 2 in Tanzania. He had served 27 years in prison in Los Angeles for murder, the first eight in solitary confinement, and had been denied parole 16 times before his sentence was vacated and he was freed.
June 23, 2011
In the fall of 2008, EnergySolutions Foundation, the charitable arm of one of the world’s largest nuclear-waste processors, began approaching nuclear utilities with an offer. Guided by a team of science teachers and industry p.r. staffers, the organization had developed a trove of materials on nuclear power for use in sixth-through-twelfth-grade classes.
Do Floods Hurt or Help Fish?
May 11, 2011
Flooding along the Mississippi River continues to dominate headlines, as Mississippi and Louisiana brace for record water levels. The river has already reached a record 58 feet in Natchez, Mississippi, and is expected to crest there at 64 feet on May 21, while Louisiana officials nervously consider whether to open the Morganza spillway, which would lower the river by several feet, but also deluge thousands of homes and businesses. Cities farther upstream, though, aren't letting days of flooding get in the way of events: Memphis is even going ahead with a World Championship BBQ competition.
Flooding: A National Trend?
May 09, 2011
As mentioned in the last post, flooding along the Mississippi River continues to be the major domestic news story of the day. Residents of low-lying areas of Memphis have been asked to evacuate, as the river rises to 48 feet, just shy of the record set in the terrible flood of 1927, the most destructive in American history. Workers are building temporary levees throughout Mississippi and Louisiana, where the Mississippi is expected to exceed levels reached in that infamous flood in 1927.
The Mississippi River has continued to rise through the weekend, flooding thousands of acres in the region. Forecasters expect the river to crest in Memphis on Monday night, earlier than previously expected, and farther downstream, Louisiana officials are bracing for a potential flooding disaster. To lessen the chances of flooding in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and other Louisiana cities, the Army Corps of Engineers is expected to open the Morganza Spillway later this week, after already opening the Bonnet Carre Spillway this morning.
Is Donald Trump a Demagogue?
May 07, 2011
Unless you live under a rock, you know Donald Trump is thinking about running for president. His sensational public endeavors—pushing the White House to release President Obama’s long-form birth certificate and, most recently, questioning the authenticity of the president’s academic record—have met with astonishment, outrage, and dismay.
When The Mississippi River Floods A Lake
May 04, 2011
As the Mississippi River continues to rise higher and higher, the Army Corps of Engineers has been forced to blast levies along the river in an attempt to lower the water level. Unfortunately, while the destruction of levees has protected cities along the river, it has also led to the flooding of thousands of acres of farmland.
Leprosy: Can It Be Eliminated?
April 28, 2011
For years, about 150 Americans acquired leprosy annually, but doctors had no idea where about one-third of the cases came from. (Two-thirds were acquired overseas.) In a bizarre twist (bizarre, at least, for those of us who do not follow current events in leprosy), today in the New England Journal of Medicine American and Swiss researchers concluded that these leprosy cases, most occurring in Texas and Louisiana, were transferred from wild armadillos. (Researchers say mere contact with an armadillo is unlikely to transfer the disease.
Why Do Ethics Stories Still Quote CREW's Melanie Sloan?
March 04, 2011
[Guest post by James Downie] Kudos to the New York Times for a well-done investigation, published yesterday, on how companies operating in Louisiana are donating large amounts of money to Bobby Jindal's wife’s charity. Of course, that does not immediately prove something unethical has actually taken place, but, well, I’ll let a quote from the Times piece sum it up: “The motives might be good,” said Melanie Sloan, director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics [in Washington], which has also examined public records detailing the operations of Mrs. Jindal’s charity.