Daily Deadline: The Case for Fees on Checked Bags
November 28, 2011
[with contributions from Matt O'Brien and Darius Tahir] The prevailing story about passenger air travel is that it used to be a lot more fun or, at least, a lot more comfortable. I wonder how true that claim is. Weren’t the old planes a lot noisier? Didn’t they take longer to reach their destinations? Weren't they less safe? But a few things clearly have changed – among them, the introduction of separate fees for baggage. Virtually every major airline now charges passengers to check bags.
The Ironic Populist: How Herman Cain’s Insurgency Marks the Beginning of a New Political Era
November 07, 2011
The conditions haven’t been this ripe for populism for decades. From coast to coast, left to right, an authentic grassroots resentment of our current economic instability is roiling the country. But whether it’s the Tea Party on the right or the Occupy Wall Street protests on the left, we have yet to see the most predictable symptom of such movements—a recognizable populist leader. Last year, the Tea Party auditioned both Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin for this role, but they both sputtered.
Me Journalism: What Anderson Cooper Has Done to His Profession
October 11, 2011
Anderson Cooper the daytime talk show host does not look all that different from Anderson Cooper the disaster reporter. He is still boyish, still earnest, still reliably clad in a button-down that accentuates the blue of those sympathetic eyes. Yet much of the new show’s media coverage has harped on the apparent contradiction between the two Coopers: windblown Anderson in a flak jacket vs. spruced-up Anderson ministering to celebrities on his talk show couch. “Anderson Cooper offers another version of himself on talk show ‘Anderson,’” announced The Washington Post online.
Conservative Democrats Strike Again (Updated)
September 14, 2011
If you’ve read this blog lately, you’ve read a lot of criticism of Republicans for talking economic nonsense, placing their political fortunes ahead of the country’s good, or some combination of the two. But sometimes Democrats, particularly conservative Democrats, do the same things. And now is one of those times. Mary Landrieu and Jim Webb – I’m looking at you. An article by Manu Raju, in Politico, quotes the three senators criticizing Obama’s jobs proposal.
A Metro Lens on the New National Poverty Data
September 14, 2011
The release of new Census Bureau poverty data yesterday confirmed suspicions about the state of the economy for the nation’s most vulnerable citizens: even as GDP growth resumed in 2009, things continued to deteriorate at the bottom of the ladder. The U.S. poverty rate rose from 14.3 percent in 2009 to 15.1 percent in 2010, reaching its highest point since 1993. The news is a stark reminder that poverty is first and foremost a reflection of labor market conditions.
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.