Defending Freedom

Probably more true historically than it is today (criminal law is only part of current civil liberties jurisprudence). But interesting nonetheless:

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- HL Mencken

House passes tobacco regulation

The House has passed tobacco legislation which will for the first time put tobacco products under the review of the FDA. Though I am against increasing the size and oversight of the federal government, I have to support this one, as I see no reason why smoking should be legal.

NYT Article.

More than 40 years after the Surgeon General first warned that cigarettes were a health hazard, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation on Wednesday that would for the first time give the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products.

Citing the long history of warnings about the dangers of smoking, Representative John Dingell, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee which approved the bill, said that it was hard to believe that the federal government had not yet regulated the tobacco industry.

“With this legislation, we change this,” said Mr. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat.

The White House has signaled its opposition to the bill. And while the legislation has strong support in the Senate, which could take up the measure this fall, it is not clear whether the bill has a veto-proof majority there.

The show of support for the bill in the House, which passed it by a vote of 326 to 102, illustrated not only the strength of anti-smoking sentiment in the country but also the benefit of enlisting a powerful ally. The legislation was partly the result of negotiations with Philip Morris USA, the nation’s largest cigarette company, which split with other major cigarette companies by endorsing it.

Most large public health groups supported the legislation — and its House passage was immediately applauded by groups including the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association — but some anti-smoking advocates said the bargain struck with Philip Morris gave too many concessions to the industry.

The bill specifically states that the F.D.A.’s new powers would stop short of the ability to order the elimination of nicotine from tobacco products or place an outright ban on all tobacco products.

But the agency could reduce nicotine to non-addictive levels if it determined that doing so would benefit public health. The F.D.A. could also require changes in tobacco products, like the reduction or elimination of other harmful ingredients.

The bill bans flavored cigarettes that appeal to young people but exempts menthol from that ban. The menthol exemption raised objections from black anti-smoking advocates because mentholated cigarettes are most frequently chosen by black smokers.

To satisfy the Congressional Black Caucus on that issue, there were last-minute changes in the bill, to direct a scientific advisory committee to issue recommendations on menthol in cigarettes within one year.

The amendments also require the F.D.A. to publish an action plan on the advertising and promotion of menthol and other cigarettes to young people, giving priority to minority communities.

The bill was opposed by many Republicans, who split on the legislation. Many said they objected to expansion of the federal bureaucracy, and complained in particular that the F.D.A. was already unable to fulfill its work overseeing pharmaceuticals and food.

In floor discussion of the bill, John A. Boehner, the House Republican leader, a smoker, called the legislation a “boneheaded idea. ”

“How much is enough?” Mr. Boehner said. “How much government do we need? There’s not a smoker in America that doesn’t understand that smoking isn’t good for you.”

But Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who sponsored the bill, responded, “The minority leader said ‘When is enough, enough?’ Well cigarettes, one of the most dangerous products on sale today, are not regulated at all.”

The legislation would finance the F.D.A.’s tobacco supervision primarily through new fees paid by tobacco companies that are earmarked for that purpose.

If the legislation is enacted, consumers would see a wholesale revamping of the warning labels on tobacco products.

The small text messages currently on cigarette packs warning of the negative health effects of smoking would be replaced by graphic images of the physical ravages often caused by cigarettes, such as lung tumors and mouth growths.

Similar warning systems have been used in Canada, Australia and Britain with success, according to Clifford E. Douglas, executive director of the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network.

The bill will also require cigarette makers to provide detailed disclosure about the type and quantities of ingredients in their products — like ammonia and acetaldehyde — which are believed to work with nicotine to increase the addictiveness of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. The requirements also mean that tobacco companies would be required to disclose internal research on the biological effects of those additives.

Cigarette companies could no longer advertise their products as “light” or “ultralight” to convey the notion of less harmful ingredients. But some companies have already anticipated those strictures by packaging their products so that cigarettes packs are color-coded to denote different blends.

Under the bill, any outdoor advertising of cigarettes, and advertising in publications seen by children, would have to be in black and white, to reduce their visual allure.

House approval of the bill follows years of debate over whether tobacco products should be regulated.

While attempts to place tobacco products under the agency’s jurisdiction dates back at least to the 1980s, the impetus for current bill traces to 1995, when Dr David A. Kessler, then F.D.A. commissioner, proposed a set of regulations governing tobacco. Dr. Kessler claimed that nicotine was an addictive drug and that tobacco companies deliberately manipulated the nicotine content of their products.

President Bill Clinton signed an executive order granting the F.D.A authority to enforce those regulations, but they were overturned in 2000 when the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that that F.D.A. had no jurisdiction over tobacco products and had exceeded its legal authority.

A bill that would have placed tobacco under the agency’s jurisdiction was passed by the Senate in 2004, but never approved by the House. The bill that the House approved Wednesday was introduced in both chambers in 2007.

Cook like a Norm, part 1

Again, this is kind of cheating, but time is scarce. I will put up recipes in the future, with spag-bog figuring prominently, but right now, I just found this, and it looks amazing.. (cheshire is my favorite cheese, think a tastier crumblier cheddar).


Cheshire on Ciabatta with Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes

Serves 4Cheshire on ciabatta with roasted peppers and tomatoes

1 part-baked ciabatta loaf (plain or with olives)

4 teaspoons sun-dried tomato paste or puree

3 - 4 tomatoes, sliced

100g (4oz) roasted peppers in olive oil or vinegar, drained

1 teaspoon dried mixed Italian herbs

salt and freshly ground black pepper

150g (5oz) red or white Cheshire cheese, thinly sliced

a few herbs or salad leaves, to garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas 6.

2. Split the ciabatta loaf in half horizontally, then cut each piece in two. Arrange the pieces, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Spread with the sun-dried tomato paste or puree and top with the sliced tomatoes.

3. If the peppers are in thick strips, slice them into thinner ones, then arrange an equal amount on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with herbs, season with salt and pepper and top with the sliced cheese.

4. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until the bread is hot and the cheese has melted. Serve at once, garnished with a few fresh herbs or salad leaves.

Cook’s Tip: Whisk up a quick dressing with 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil, a tablespoon of red or white wine vinegar and a pinch of mustard and seasoning. Use it to drizzle over the melted cheese just before serving.

The undiscovered: Cryptozology intro

Sometime I will put up what really should be going up here, my views on Bigfoot. But that will take a little time, something I am short on right now, instead I offer up this simple statement: we often have no idea of even large land animals living around us.

Case in point, the Wood Bison. Larger than the plains bison, the population was down to 250 in 1900 and was thought to be extinct by the mid-1900's. In 1957, a population was discovered in Alberta, Canada, and the population is now though to be up around 3,500, stable though still small.

The interests of cryptozoology generally focus on large animals. While scientists generally accept that we only know 40% of all species globally, most of that is either tiny things in the rainforest or tiny things in the ocean. Anything big should have been found by now, because they are easy to see. This is simply not the case.

Scafell Pike -- Extreme Cellists

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/7525725.stm

Playing the cello on the top of Scafell Pike.. thats pretty much it. One of my favorite mountains, and my favorite region to hike (the Lake District), but sadly there is not enough of the actual music in the clip..

Fingerprinting

Another quick one, but one of the more important pieces of information I have come across in a while.

The bill to give aid to the 'victims' of the mortgage lenders currently winding its way through the house and senate has had a little something extra tagged on.

Yes, any good free thinking person who believes in individual culpability should recognize the lunacy of bailing out individuals bad loans.

But there is something more, and in my mind, something less protectionist but much more sinister.

Every mortgage borrower will be required to get fingerprinted by the government.

It started out that the lenders would need to do so, to protect individuals, keep lenders on file etc. The goverment already does this in a number of other areas (brokers licenses being one). But then, it was slipped in that every single borrower would be required to get fingerprinted. Every one.

Now, I have no idea how many individuals that covers. But it is not just a few.

Civil liberties indeed.

New name for Vodia: Finaedium

Sorry for the shortage of new posts, work has kind of taken over my life for a little while. That said, here is the new logo for Vodia Group, soon to be renamed Finaedium:
I must admit, it did give me a good laugh.. if only it were not true..

Oh'MyBama 2008 #5 Messianic Complex

From the Boston Globe, an interesting editorial:
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/07/20/the_audacity_of_ego/?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed2

Barack Obama always was a larger-than-life candidate with a healthy ego. Now he's turning into the A-Rod of politics. It's all about him.

He's giving his opponent something other than issues to attack him on: narcissism.

A convention hall isn't good enough for the presumptive Democratic nominee. He plans to deliver his acceptance speech in the 75,000 seat stadium where the Denver Broncos play. Before a vote is cast, he's embarking on a foreign policy tour that will use cheering Europeans - and America's top news anchors - as extras in his campaign. What do you expect from a candidate who already auditioned a quasi-presidential seal with the Latin inscription, "Vero possumus" - "Yes, we can"?

Obama finds criticism of his wife "infuriating" and doesn't want either of them to be the target of satire. Tell that to the Carters, the Reagans, the Clintons, and the Bushes, father and son.

There's no such thing as a humble politician. But when Obama looks into the mirror, he doesn't just see a president; he sees JFK.

In 1960, John F. Kennedy accepted his party's nomination with an outdoor speech at the Los Angeles Coliseum. But he waited until he was elected before going to Germany to declare "Ich bin ein Berliner."

The fashionistas have already noted Michelle Obama's affinity for chanelling Jackie. And it's hard to watch the Obama daughters "Access Hollywood" interview and not think about Caroline and John F. Kennedy Jr. back in the days of Camelot.

So far, Dad is only promising to get the kids a dog, not a pony named Macaroni.

Republican John McCain has the opposite challenge. As a candidate, he's shrinking, thanks to a series of gaffes, stumbles, and generally uninspiring speeches.

But McCain has one thing going for him: the appearance of modesty.

Part of it is physical. McCain is stiff and awkward, the result of age and injuries from his years as a prisoner of war. That, too, is a contrast to Obama's sleek physique, the consequence of youth and a George W. Bush-like passion for working out.

But with McCain, there's also the sense of a man who made mistakes in life and acknowledges them.

McCain's humility comes through in his book, "Faith of my Fathers," which he wrote at age 63, after completing a career in the US Navy and moving onto politics. Obama wrote the more self-reverential "Dreams from My Father," after he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review.

The McCain campaign is beginning to jump on the ego issue. "I don't know that people in Missouri are going to like seeing tens of thousands of Europeans screaming for The One," a McCain aide quipped in response to Obama's upcoming visit abroad.

The conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh regularly ridicules "The Messiah also known as Obama." And "The Audacity of Obama" is turning into a ready-made take-off on the title of the Democrat's second book, "The Audacity of Hope."

The downside for Obama is how much his ego stands to resonate beyond the political right.

Last January, the online Slate Magazine debuted "The Obama Messiah Watch."

In February, a blogger for the left-embracing Mother Jones commented on his uneasiness over the candidate's messianic complex: "Does this post play unhelpfully into the pernicious and growing Obamaism-as-cult . . . that we'll likely see repeated over and over by the right wing if Obama gets the nomination?" blogged Jonathan Stein.

"It does. Sorry. But Obama's rhetoric makes an undeniable suggestion: that his election, not an eight-year administration that successfully implements his vision for America, would represent a moment in America of the grandest, most transformative kind. And that's a bit much," Stein wrote.

When the Obama Girl video first surfaced, Obama told the Associated Press, "You do wish people would think about what impact their actions have on kids and families."

That's good advice. He should think more about the impact of his ego on voters.

A presidential candidate is supposed to get bigger on the national stage. That doesn't mean his head should, too.

http://www.thefreesociety.org/

From my perspective, I cant agree with the smoking position for a wide range of reasons (related to how I draw a line though the grey area between anarcho-capitalism and total govt. control a little further away from the pure free market than many libertarians), but generally this site is pretty fantastic. Libertarianism with a British perspective.
 

Regulations

Three things. One I meant to post on a while ago.
 
1) Why. WHY? is our central bank acting as a regulator of our financial services industry? Who thought that one made sense? Hmm... central bank.. supporting the currency... and regulating the financial industry... thats a logical combination.
 
2) Freddie and Fannie were and are too bloated. Amazingly it was only a month or two that they were expanded to be able to take on more mortgages in order to "help out" with our current crises. Good bit 'o thinking that.
 
3) SEC's naked short selling ban. I find this one disingenuous. Naked short selling is already banned. The primes are calling this a firm pre-locate requirement on these stocks, which it is, but I am going to be a little bit more of a pessimist. The thing is, this came after Freddie and Fannie tanked and the US govt agreed to give them unlimited support. My view is that the SEC is 'protecting' Freddie and Fannie from the hedgies the govt. believes could take them under and cost the govt. a bundle. Now, the interesting thing, is that I have pulled the stock loan rates on these guys (Bloomberg needed them for an article, and I think they will be a little disappointed with the result on this one), and both Freddie and Fannie were general collateral (easy to borrow) through their entire fall. What that means, and this is interesting, is that there is no need to naked short, because it is dead easy to get a locate on the shares. And, this has generally been true of most financial services firms recently: with their huge (90+%) of institutional ownership, they are easy to borrow. So what the hell is the SEC doing by banning an already banned action? Swinging baseball bats at ghosts, in my opinion.

The Stig

If you have not watched Top Gear, watch it. It is the best show on television. Ever. For those who like the show and its anonymous driver, the Stig, a fantastic short article which cropped up on him:

The Stig v F1

"Whoever's in that car is a seriously good driver," said Fernando Alonso pre-race at the British Grand Prix last weekend.

Alonso was watching a man being driven around in a two seat Santander grand prix car by a mysterious white-clad driver.

"I've no idea who he is, but he's definitely ex-F1," Alonso continued.

Who was he talking about? The Stig of course!

Those of you who were at Silverstone last weekend may have noticed the well-known tame racing driving lapping the circuit before the F1 cars went out to the grid.

The Stig had been bought in a Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital charity auction for the princely sum of £35,000, by a man who'd won £5million pounds on the lottery.

His 35 grand got him three laps in the back of the Santander grand prix car, driven by the Stig himself.

You'll know if you watched the race how wet it was, but the Stig threw off the challenge with a shrug.

Or at least he would have if he was prone to any physical expression what-so-ever, but as he's not he just got on with it.

No traction control, no driver aids and cold, hard Avon wet tyres.

The back even stepped out on him at one point, at 178mph, and he saved it.

But then what did you expect from a driver who even Alonso admires?

Sir Stiggington, we salute you.

F&F

Our two undercapitalized, poorly run, and totally mismanaged quasi-government (there's a shady term if you've ever heard one) housing lenders are getting the unlimited protection it has been so long surmised that they would be given. Freddie and Fannie, both having growth excessively portly in recent years, are in quite a lot of trouble as many of those good eats are turning foul. What is a good government to do but bail them out? Unlike my position on Bear Stearns, I think it is sadly clear at this point that such a lifeline is needed. How we ever got to this point is a different matter entirely. Short story: what the hell is the government doing supplying financing? Long story: everything other than services dealing with public goods (of which buying a nice house is not one) should be private or privatized. End of story.

Phones in the developing world

A direct development of the paper I am working on (specifically due to the Safaricom IPO, the largest sub-Saharan African IPO) I came across this, a great article on the use, benefit, and unexpected demand for mobile phones in the developing world:
 
Excerpt:

What would a Kenyan farmer want with a mobile phone? Plenty, as it turns out. To the astonishment of the industry, people living on a few dollars a day have proven avid phone users, and in many parts of the world cellular airtime has become a de facto currency. The reason is simple: A mobile phone can dramatically improve living standards by saving wasted trips, providing information about crop prices, summoning medical help, and even serving as a conduit to banking services. "The cell phone is the single most transformative technology for development," says Columbia University economist and emerging markets expert Jeffrey Sachs.

Mobile phones are changing developing markets faster than anyone imagined. Today there are some 3 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, and that will grow to 5 billion by 2015, when two-thirds of the people on earth will have phones, predicts Finnish handset maker Nokia Corp.

Israel vs. Iran

Looking at a possible strike from a strategic standpoint:

Most Iranian nuclear facilities are approximately 1,000 miles from Israel. The IAF is really designed for defense (oddly enough). What this means, is that any air strike is going to rely on the 5 to 7 aging KC-707 tankers (basically the same old workhorse the US is trying to replace). Thats not many. As a result, the maximum number of F-15/F-16's will be about 30-40. Splitting these between support (such as taking out the anti-aircraft and command facilities) and the actual bombers will mean that Israel has a very small margin of error for hitting their targets.

At the same time, Iran is trying to buy the Russian made SA-20 or "Favorite." This is roughly equivalent to the American Patriot missile system. It has previously not decided to go ahead with a purchase, because it did not want to spend the money (a few hundred million, minimum). However, given the current state of affairs and the price of oil, it is thought the purchase is not far off (with some reports stating it has always happened.) Got to love those Russians for supplying all the right people with weaponry.. and China.. and France... odd they are usually the nations opposed to UN sanctions... The end result is that if Iran is confirmed to be installing the system, Israel will strike. As I said before, the margin for error is small, and this system would put any mission in jeopardy.

The third piece of the puzzle is Israel's new Airborne Early Warning aircraft, the Eitam. Impressively, this aircraft (which is very highly advanced in terms of monitoring and battlefield control) is built into a Gulfstream G550 airframe. The benefit of this, other than the lower operating cost, is that the radar signature looks like a commercial aircraft, and with signal masking and the outdated equipment of Iran, the aircraft could likely pose as a business jet, staying in commercial lanes, and gather info on Iran. It is likely already doing so. This gives Israel a further edge in recon and monitoring.

The last element is when the cascade at Natanz produces enough enriched uranium to build a bomb, an event expected sometime in the next 1 to 2 years. Again, when they do, Israel will strike.

The end result: unless diplomacy heads of the situation, Israel will strike. From a strategic standpoint, the best time to do so is in the next 1 to 2 months, maximum the next year. Israel does not play the wait and see what happens game like the rest of the world did with North Korea (which, it seems, did actually work out.) They believe that an Iranian nuclear warhead (possibly shaped using technology by the lovely Mr. Khan of Pakistan which can fit atop the Nodong supplied by N. Korea) would be used against them. So they will strike first.

I love the fact that everyone blames the US (as a capitalist country) for always trying to make money off of things such as the Iraq war (which is blatantly false), when it is Russia and China, the two global powers furthest from capitalism, who consistently oppose solving issues in the world just so that they can make money off of tension, conflict, and warmongering dictators.

Chalk one up for capitalism, but in the meantime, lets hope that Israel can keep their guns holstered.

Boeing Heavy Lifter

Always liked airships, thought that they got a bad rap for the last 80 years. This is a modern Boeing design meant to operate something like a helicopter, or really in place of one, with a 40 ton lifting capacity and a range of 200 miles, same range as a Chinook, but 4 times the payload, and of course fuel efficiency benefits.

Norm's Great Name My Company Challenge

So, Vodia Group is changing its name. Which is probably a good thing, as it was generally taken to be the bastard love child of Vodaphone and Nokia.

I will award one full spag-bog pasta dinner for up to 10 people to anyone who can come up with a truly solid and inventive name, even if we do not decide to use it.

There you are. A completely subjective, entirely without value and only moderately entertaining competition. You expected more?

And no, we cant name the company the "Cougar Hunters."

Oh'MyBama 2008 #4

Which one of these is not like the others? There is actually a case to be made that Obama's campaign seal is actually illegal. Regardless of it being illegal, it is arrogant and inappropriate for a junior senator from Illinois who has done very little so far for his nation.

Oh'MyBama 2008 #3

Good solid quote on his Iraq war opinion:

"I'm surprised at how finely calibrated every single word was measured. I wasn't saying anything I hadn't said before, that I didn't say a year ago or when I was a United States senator,"

Hmm.. he must be putting a lot of time into his senate duties... not that I would ever claim McCain was either, but just interesting that Obama has already forgotten he is still a Senator (and swore that he would serve out his term...)

Tea and a Thief

This one is for my Mom: a Japanese woman avoided getting robbed by offering the knife wielding assailant a cup of tea:

Global Markets? I think so:

MSCI indices, consistent, and consistently bad news:
Developed Markets Standard Core (Price) as of Jul 07, 2008

Annualized Historical
MSCI Index LastDayMTD 3 Mo. YTD 1 Yr 3 Yr 5 Yr 10 Yr
EAFE1,916.4040.73%-2.58%-10.43%-14.95%-16.68%9.74%12.61%3.20%
EAFE + CANADA1,896.3940.47%-2.86%-9.77%-13.97%-15.24%10.48%13.26%3.70%
EAFE ex UK2,149.5310.61%-2.43%-10.44%-14.65%-15.57%10.97%13.59%3.84%
EASEA INDEX (EAFE ex JAPAN)1,583.6780.81%-2.79%-11.50%-16.64%-16.99%10.62%13.61%3.34%
EMU227.8351.38%-2.22%-13.16%-18.56%-17.03%12.22%14.59%3.24%
EMU ex GERMANY226.8221.28%-2.43%-14.45%-18.95%-18.77%10.11%13.31%3.28%
EU456.3871.29%-2.51%-11.98%-17.27%-18.41%9.94%12.99%2.59%
EURO1,340.4561.44%-1.87%-12.93%-18.78%-16.07%12.31%13.99%2.97%
EUROPE1,767.3651.13%-2.64%-11.69%-16.68%-17.83%10.11%13.08%2.68%
EUROPE GDP2,231.5121.24%-2.43%-12.40%-17.58%-17.33%11.63%14.94%3.79%
EUROPE ex EMU178.2630.87%-3.09%-10.07%-14.60%-18.63%8.06%11.61%2.00%
EUROPE ex SWITZERLAND1,649.3451.28%-2.55%-11.97%-17.17%-18.27%10.01%13.07%2.66%
EUROPE ex UK2,008.7221.11%-2.42%-12.29%-16.99%-16.55%12.39%14.99%3.53%
FAR EAST2,922.4090.59%-1.75%-7.03%-9.98%-14.51%7.65%10.15%3.47%
G7 INDEX1,166.274-0.20%-2.59%-9.02%-13.62%-16.56%4.87%7.59%1.64%
KOKUSAI INDEX (WORLD ex JP)1,342.726-0.22%-2.74%-9.91%-14.72%-16.42%5.97%8.71%2.04%
NORDIC COUNTRIES5,802.4861.19%-2.04%-11.30%-15.79%-16.79%15.56%18.92%7.33%
NORTH AMERICA1,345.488-0.96%-2.71%-8.70%-13.27%-16.01%3.04%5.81%1.33%
PACIFIC2,375.612-0.12%-2.44%-7.57%-10.95%-14.06%9.00%11.62%4.65%
PACIFIC ex JAPAN1,242.294-1.29%-3.73%-10.18%-16.38%-10.60%14.35%17.88%10.15%
PAN-EURO1,278.4351.14%-2.30%-11.31%-16.56%-16.74%10.16%12.57%2.45%
THE WORLD INDEX1,364.976-0.15%-2.65%-9.54%-14.09%-16.33%6.03%8.74%2.10%
WORLD ex AUSTRALIA1,370.041-0.07%-2.57%-9.55%-14.09%-16.47%5.78%8.49%1.92%
WORLD ex EMU157.226-0.46%-2.74%-8.77%-13.12%-16.19%4.93%7.74%1.94%
WORLD ex EUROPE1,223.068-0.77%-2.65%-8.45%-12.75%-15.58%4.20%6.88%1.94%
WORLD ex UK1,350.256-0.30%-2.59%-9.45%-13.86%-15.82%6.03%8.62%2.21%
WORLD ex USA1,933.8160.47%-2.86%-9.77%-13.97%-15.24%10.48%13.26%3.70%









EAFE FREE252.0680.73%-2.58%-10.43%-14.95%-16.68%9.74%12.61%3.19%
FAR EAST FREE102.4220.59%-1.75%-7.03%-9.98%-14.51%7.65%10.15%3.43%
PACIFIC FREE121.335-0.12%-2.44%-7.57%-10.95%-14.06%9.00%11.62%4.62%
PACIFIC FREE ex JAPAN448.672-1.29%-3.73%-10.18%-16.38%-10.60%14.35%17.88%9.96%
THE WORLD INDEX FREE334.412-0.15%-2.65%-9.54%-14.09%-16.33%6.03%8.74%2.09%
LC = Large Cap, MC = Mid Cap, SC = Small Cap
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The Masses

From an article on Starbucks' fall, and coffee drinkers delight in its demise:

"There are a lot of people out there who take delight in seeing an icon torn down by the masses."

True. Read Atlas Shrugged.

Markets

"It's always darkest before the dawn."

Why you never give up monetary policy

Spain and Ireland, both going through housing market crashes after decade long booms are being thrown under the bus by the ECB. Which is not surprising, because the ECB is inflation targeting. Which is great, when thing are good. But when they are bad, it is very very bad. Shocking that the Irish don't love their Brusselian overlords.
 
 

Gitmo - Due Process

This article, granted written from a very polarized Right vs. Left standpoint, does at least bring up an interesting ruling. It turns out that a number of "enemy combatants" were not really combatants at all, but just people the US military picked up for various reasons and really could not figure out what to do with. I am not one to rail on and on about Gitmo, but, in this country, we should not be holding anyone without due process. Looks like the courts agree.
Sadly, as they are the furthest thing from Democratic, my faith in the Federal Judiciary (a very distinct group than the politicized state judiciaries) continues to grow as my faith in the other branches of govt. wanes.

Europe

Europe - The name actually comes from Greek, and means "she that has a wide vision"
 
Take it as you will, but I suppose it provides for some interesting analysis given the number of cultures and nations they are currently trying to fit under one roof.
 
On a separate note, I have always been interested in the differences between what speakers of one language call a nation to the other, especially to those that actually live there. We often don't really think about such things, but it is commonly true that we (as English speakers) still use heavily anglicized names for other nations, and there is an occasional outcry over this. However, to my knowledge, this is true across all languages, with the differences between names often dating back hundreds or thousands of years.

Viva la Vida

Just listened to Viva la Vida for the first time all the way through, after 'buying' it earlier this morning from the PirateBay, and I was not mightily impressed. This is no X&Y. Its good, with the two radio hits (Viva la Vida and Violet Hill), being the best songs, but its is not a standout album for them, in my opinion. Death and all his friends is another good song, as is Lost?, but the whole album does not have the strength that X&Y did. Still, good music, and glad to finally have a new album from them.
McCain jumped on the prizes for innovation bandwagon (which I am a huge fan of) and promised a $300 million prize for battery development. Now, take anything on the campaign trail with a grain of salt, and if Obama keeps getting gilded by the press, not sure how much chance McCain has... but here you go:

“I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people,” Mr. McCain said, “by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.”

He said the winner should deliver power at 30 percent of current costs. “That’s one dollar, one dollar, for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency.”