Last weekend, Congress allowed the hated ethanol subsidy to expire. Decried as wasteful and inefficient, the subsidy had become a favorite target of both liberals and conservatives. It has even been blamed for worsening the global food crisis.
On January 1st, Hawaii and Delaware began to offer same-sex civil unions. That brings the number of states recognizing same-sex civil unions to five. Meanwhile, six states and Washington, D.C. now allow same-sex marriage. What impact has marriage equality had on same-sex couples? A 2009 study examining same-sex couples in Massachusetts (where gay marriage has existed since 2004) gives some perspective.
A spate of arsons is rocking Los Angeles this week. More than fifty cars have been set on fire over the last three days. Authorities have detained a man identified as a “person of interest” in the case, but so far very little other information is available. What drives a person to set fires? A 1994 study of 153 adult arsonists provides some insight. Some arsonists have obvious financial motives, but for many the urge to set fires is psychological.
Today is the last full day of campaigning for candidates tromping through Iowa in a quest for the support of the state’s Republican caucus-goers. Mitt Romney is playing up his electability, Rick Santorum is emphasizing his social conservatism, and Ron Paul is warning about a UN takeover of Americans’ land. In other words, it’s a circus out there. But will it finally end this uncertainty and give us a GOP nominee? Probably not, says a 2008 paper. The author, a political scientist, examined the theory that Iowans played “kingmaker” in the major parties’ nominating processes.
Today, millions of Americans (who, unlike your humble blogger, are still on vacation) are trading the champagne of December 31st for the six-packs of January 2nd. That’s right: It’s time for college football. Today, Houston and Penn State play in the TicketCity Bowl, Ohio State and Florida play in the Gator Bowl, Michigan State and Georgia play in the Outback Bowl, Nebraska and South Carolina play in the Capital One Bowl, Wisconsin and Oregon play in the Rose Bowl, and Stanford and Oklahoma State play in the Fiesta Bowl.
A new policy announced by Verizon yesterday has the Internet in a frenzy. In an attempt to control costs incurred by customers making one-time payments over the Internet or by phone, the company is instituting a “convenience fee” of two dollars. Now, Verizon finds itself inundated with complaints on Twitter, online petitions, and bad publicity. Will this lead to a change in the policy? A 2006 paper suggests that all this pressure, if not tempered by careful managerial guidance, could have the opposite effect.
In recent days, international peace monitors have arrived in Syria to evaluate whether the violent government crackdown there has ended. The monitors’ tour began inauspiciously when one leader declared that he saw “nothing frightening” in Homs, a city which has suffered devastating violence throughout the uprising. Which factors limit the success of human rights monitoring? A 2004 article by Michael O’Flaherty, a former United Nations official who established human rights programs in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Sierra Leone, outlines some of the core challenges facing effective monitoring.
The New York Times reports today that due to the weak economy, there are now “more young women in school than in the work force.” This is the first time women in school have outnumbered women in the work force in three decades.
A report released by China’s government today blamed corruption, poor management, and faulty equipment for a deadly train crash on the country’s high-speed rail system in July. According to The Wall Street Journal, Chinese leaders are calling for “more cautionary expansion” of the rail network.
Yesterday, a senior Iranian official, in response to threats of U.S. sanctions, declared that the proposed measures could spark an energy crisis. Referring to sanctions aimed at deterring Iran’s nuclear program, Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, Iran’s first vice president, said that an American crackdown would mean that “even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz.” Just how crucial is the Strait of Hormuz? According to information from the U.S.