Technology

Rumors Before The Internet
November 11, 2009

Forty years ago, the rumor that Paul McCartney had died, and that the Beatles had covered up his death while for some reason scattering clues of it in their albums, leapt from the counterculture to the mainstream, where it briefly transfixed millions. The key event in the rumor going viral was a Michigan Daily article by student Fred LeBour. Michigan Today recounts the story: On the morning of October 14, the university community awoke to the shocking and incredible report that one of the world's most popular and beloved entertainers was no more.

A USAID Pick, Finally
November 11, 2009

I've been diverted with a print story so this is a little belated, but it's great news that the Obama administration has finally chosen someone to lead USAID. The vacancy of that post more than 10 months into an administration that has pledged to prioritize foreign aid was a minor scandal, even if the vetting process is a "nightmare." But important decisions remain about the fate of the agency. As part of its sweeping "Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review" (QDDR) Hillary Clinton's State Department has rethinking USAID's role.

Every Time Innocent Life Is Taken By Religious Fanatics We Are Told That "No Faith Justifies These Murderous And Craven Acts" (More On Nidal Malik Hasan)
November 11, 2009

So again, yesterday, in an otherwise poignant and truthful memorial talk at Fort Hood, the president assured us that religion does not kill. It killed in ancient Judaism: remember Amalek. It killed through virtually the entire history of Christianity. Hindu fanatics kill in India. Alas, Muslim faith kills every day in half the globe. It kills in zeroes, many zeroes. Look at your daily newspaper. Read your habitual web-site. Watch blood-thirsty Muslim television from centers of the faith. There are grave splits in Islam, and no one knows which of the many sides will come out on top.

Towards 30,000 Troops
November 11, 2009

The NYT reports that Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and Mike Mullen are supporting a big troop increase for Afghanistan. This actually isn't terribly newsy: We've had a pretty good idea while that those three have been leaning towards a McChrystal-ian position. The Times describes Obama as undecided. But the tenor of recent leaks on this subject clearly suggests that the president himself is closing in on this position.

Today in "Too Big To Fail": More Shrinkage Momentum
November 10, 2009

Very interesting development on the "too big to fail" front today: The Journal reports that Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter is planning an amendment to the systemic risk bill currently before the House Financial Services committee. The amendment would partly revive certain New Deal-era restrictions on banks:  Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D., Colo.) is working on a separate amendment that would allow bank regulators to impose restrictions prohibiting certain companies from operating both a commercial bank and an investment bank if capital reserves fall below a certain level.

An Interview With George Will's Favorite Climatologist
November 10, 2009

On our homepage today, Marilyn Berlin Snell has a terrific interview with climatologist Stephen Schneider, the scientist who, as a grad student moonlighting at NASA in 1971, predicted that the effects of aerosol pollution could outweigh the warming effects of CO2 and bring about a bout of global cooling.

Today at TNR (November 10, 2009)
November 10, 2009

Don’t Underestimate Europe’s Ability to Integrate Its Muslim Minorities, by Anne Applebaum The Abortion Amendment Debate: What Kind of Power Do Catholics Have in the Democratic Party? by William Galston and Alan Wolfe Why Scientists Are, By Definition, Activists, by Marilyn Berlin Snell Should We Let Health Care Reform Fail So We Can Do It Right Next Time? by Jonathan Cohn Is It Too Early to Call the Fort Hood Shootings an Act of Terrorism? by John B.

America’s Stealth Industrial Policy
November 09, 2009

Economists continue to debate whether the U.S. can rebalance its trade deficit and lead itself into recovery through exports, with skeptics’ doubts prompted anew by the fact that U.S. consumer spending explained the bulk of last week’s announced 3.5 percent third-quarter GDP rise. Given that, it’s worth asking: Does the U.S. have a national export strategy? Though it may come as a surprise, the answer is yes.

TNR Q&A: Dr. Stephen Schneider
November 09, 2009

Not many Ph.D. students expect their research to generate outrage among Washington pundits decades later, but, as it turns out, that's exactly what happened to Stephen Schneider. Back in 1971, Schneider was studying plasma physics at Columbia and moonlighting as a research assistant at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

It's the Building, Not the Blueprint, That Matters
November 08, 2009

One of the most revealing moments in Saturday's debate over health care reform was when Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York took the floor. Weiner is a rising star in the Democratic Party, having quickly established himself as an unusually engaging speaker. But, in this case, it was Weiner's effective use of a prop that stood apart. The prop was the handbook for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan, or FEHBP--which is, very roughly speaking, a model for how a reformed health care system might work.

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