“It turns out, by the way,” [Obama] said, “that oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced.”
Well, he did say "generally."
Those permit applications went to the infamous Minerals Management Service.
BP Plc said in permit applications for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that it was prepared to handle an oil spill more than ten times larger than the one now spewing crude into the waters off the southern United States.
The office’s history of corruption and coziness with the industry it was supposed to regulate had been the subject of years of scathing reports by government auditors, lurid headlines and a score of Congressional hearings. But the promised reforms of the agency were slow to arrive, and the subject of the minerals service never came up at the meetings leading to the new drilling policy, according to a senior administration official involved in the discussions.
Suddenly a baby can hear his mother's voice, but that does not strike everyone as a wonderful thing.
"If this (the BP spill) were in the Niger Delta, no one would be batting an eyelid," said Holly Pattenden, African oil analyst at consultants Business Monitor International. "They have these kinds of oil spills in Nigeria all the time."
That's not an argument for doing less in the Gulf, but for doing more in the rest of the world.
Jindal's constant presence at the scene of the disaster has suggested vigilance and reconnected him to his constituents on an emotional level.
Meanwhile: "This scares everybody, the fact that we can't make this well stop flowing, the fact that we haven't succeeded so far," said Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer.
Obama’s news conference on Thursday [...] was at least three weeks overdue. It was also his first full news conference in 10 months. Obama’s recurrent tardiness in defining exactly what he wants done on a given issue [...] remains baffling, as does his recent avoidance of news conferences.
Developers, contractors and renewable-energy advocates see Duke Energy Carolinas putting the squeeze on the local solar industry.
More from the Charlotte Biz Journal:
"Duke is choosing to comply in a way that doesn't happen to encourage folks outside of Duke Energy," says Elizabeth Ouzts, Environment North Carolina state director and co-author of a new report on potential solar jobs in the state.
Link via Blue NC.
[T]here are flaws in both bills that would let Wall Street continue devising financial black boxes that have the potential to go nuclear. And even if the best of both bills becomes law, investors, taxpayers and the economy will remain vulnerable to banking crises.
When it comes to protecting the world's wealthiest banks from public scrutiny, it turns out, Democrats and Republicans have no trouble achieving bipartisanship.
UPDATE: Significant chunks of Usey's letter, which also appears as an opinion column in this morning's N&R, are lifted without attribution from documents published by the Baptist Joint Committee For Religious Liberty, as linked by Roch and Michele in the comments after this post. [end update]
For many religious liberty advocates such as Baptists like myself, however, the practice of official prayers at governmental meetings remains awkward at best...
Pastor Michael Usey of College Park Baptist Church writes an open letter to Mayor Bill Knight.
I am a Christian minister, and I pray like I breathe. Yet I believe that this decision is divisive, exclusive, unnecessary, diminishing of prayer itself, and finally un-American.
He speaks for non-believers...
Many good citizens of our city are either atheistic or agnostic, and they should not be excluded from the very first minute of every city council meeting
...and believers alike
[P]ublic prayers like these diminish prayer itself... What then is the purpose of a watered down communication with an unnamed deity?
(Thanks to Nancy McLaughlin for the pointer; I could not find a linkable version of her N&R column.)
Ruth Taylor Brown, the mother of Keith Brown of Triad Watch, died on Thursday.
Visitation is Sunday 1:30-3 PM at Forbis & Dick's Guilford Chapel on W. Friendly, graveside service to follow at 3:30 at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
The boy had opened a sack of grain at his home early on Wednesday morning, and a pit viper coiled inside lashed up and bit him above the lip...
...Sadiq’s father appeared with him at a Marine outpost in southern Helmand. It was clear that local care could not save him...
Huh, I had somehow overlooked this phenomenon:
Anyone who reads — or writes — comments on blogs and news sites knows that the conversation can quickly stray from civil discourse to scathing personal attacks...
...Now that sites are discovering that openness doesn't necessarily translate into meaningful conversations, they are starting to change and adapt.
Her plan? Turn over grading to the students in the course, and get out of the grading business herself.
Now that the course is finished, Davidson is giving an A+ to the concept. "It was spectacular, far exceeding my expectations," she said. "It would take a lot to get me back to a conventional form of grading ever again."
Changing the system at Duke.
That may meet a legal standard, but it doesn't meet a common-sense definition of "reward":
The office of Robert F. Bauer, the White House counsel, has concluded that Mr. Emanuel’s proposal did not violate laws prohibiting government employees from promising employment as a reward for political activity because the position being offered was unpaid.
D'Annunzio threatens to sue Tom Fetzer.
The pyramid also could have been a cube containing the whole Earth, in which you could skydive. He no longer believes this to be literally true, necessarily.
The Ark discovery was predicated on "evidence of a Hebrew presence on this continent many thousands of years ago." The explanation kind of peters out after a while. I don't think he found the Ark itself. "I found the plan. Now do I believe that I am the Messiah, you ask? I think the response proves what is true. I know that I have been Anointed by God to be part of His plan to save the world."
I do not think D'Annunzio is going to win his run-off election.
What passes for good news:
Households' ratio of total debt to disposable income, for example, has shrunk from about 132% on average in 2007 to 122% as of the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the Federal Reserve. The share of income needed to make payments on debt and other obligations, like car leases, has meanwhile fallen from nearly 19% in late 2007 to 17.5%.
How so? By default. The silver lining of rampant foreclosures and credit-card delinquencies is that people are actively shedding debt and bringing spending more in line with income. "It's basically a crude form of savings," says Kevin Lansing, a senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Granted, that isn't great news for the nation's banks, he notes, which continue to struggle with losses from the souring loans. It is, though, the type of purge needed for the economy to truly recover.
It's that consumer spending is recovering to some extent, and good that people are feeling better enough to spend a bit. I don't think the New Normal was ever supposed to involve an end to discretionary spending -- but I hope it doesn't mean a return to borrow-and-spend as soon as credit becomes available again.
Joe reports: "I had an opportunity to speak with Mayor Knight about a month ago, and he told me of his plan for the prayers at council meetings. He was quite aware that some would oppose it; but he felt it was the right thing to do."
I think it's the wrong thing to do.
Joe's argument about the supporters of secular government overlooks the powerful role that deeply religious people have played in separating religion and the state.
And his logic gets a little tangled -- the argument against government-sponsored prayer is not that it privileges the "dreaded fundamentalists" -- if anything, this kind of non-sectarian prayer is more likely to please some of the "liberal" church-goers Joe derides than religious conservatives -- and, in fact, Michele says this kind of prayer is highly unsatisfying to her.
If this is done according to form, it will involve a series of people from different faiths leading vague invocations. Sooner or later, in this diverse city, one of those leaders is likely to be a Muslim, or a Wiccan (a rabbi is pretty much a given in this town). That might be interesting to see.
And I'll be against all of that, too.
Not because I'm against a religion, or all religions, or against the Mayor, or dread fundamentalists, and not because I think it's a harbinger of theocracy, but because it goes against my understanding of how our government should operate.
It's China's world, we're just borrowing heavily in it:
China’s main sovereign wealth fund is “very concerned” about short-term market fluctuations resulting from instability in the eurozone, but the ongoing debt crisis will not seriously affect China’s overseas investment, according to the fund’s president.
Byers said the university hasn’t exercised those powers [of eminent domain] in about 30 years. “That’s not really our mode of operation,” he said.
Not quite the same thing as saying UNCG won't use those powers, is it?
Maybe the best question at this point: “What’s the procedure for us to constructively alter that map?”
Previously, mapping the expansion.
Jesse Helms, First Amendment warrior:
Helms' relationship with FBI was struck months after revelations that the FBI had long been engaging in covert operations intended to disrupt civil rights, anti-war and other left-leaning political groups, using such techniques as fake letters claiming members were involved in extramarital affairs.
BP made choices over the course of the project that rendered this well more vulnerable to the blowout...Some of BP's choices allowed it to minimize costly delays.
"Half of the anonymous Internet comments would" be illegal according to the statute used against Shore, said Silverglate.
Also: "[T]he U.S. Attorney has managed to harass a defendant. Now we have to find out if the defendant managed to harass anybody."
Thnx to TC for the link.
Danny Thompson asks if the City really needs to do some projects "if these bonds have been sitting around for a decade and five councils have come and gone and they have just set there?"
Good question. The answer may well be "yes," especially for infrastructure or other long-term investments, but it seems logical to at least look at the list.
Also: what are the parameters for Council action on projects that voters have approved?
Good to see the Mayor coming online to make his point, and to make it well.
Knight, a political novice, needs to learn on the job. And what some of Joe's commenters miss is that he is learning -- he's not dismissing the concerns over diversity, he's listening, and he's addressing them: "If there is a future veteran recognition at Greensboro City Council I will make it a point to meet each invitee and members of the color guard beforehand to ensure complete inclusiveness."
I don't know that he needs to take it to the extent of personally vetting every invitee, but his intentions seem good, and that's half the battle already.
I asked John Robinson how widespread the changes to the N&R website noted here yesterday will be.
He wrote me a thoughtful email, which he then posted to his own blog.
A key excerpt:
We're going to try to create a news site, rather than a newspaper site. That means that the website will emphasize breaking news, "commodity" news, news that people need to know as soon as possible, interactivity, and the stuff that historically draws traffic — stories about crime, consumer news, dining and retail news, photo slideshows, etc. Information that is exclusive to the newspaper — enterprise and feature stories, for instance — will not be on the site. That's a generality. We have all kinds of exceptions that are still under consideration and discussion. So, if you write about this, my request is that you emphasize that this is all very much a work in progress...
...don't confuse it with a paywall because it's not close to what that terminology commonly refers to.
So they're talking about taking a meaningful chunk of their original content off the website, and putting it online only in unlinkable and, to this reader at least, incredibly unfriendly format. Imagine trying to navigate an entire newspaper in PDF form, and you'll get a rough idea; if the medium is the message, this medium says "go away."
Whether it also says, "go read the print edition" is the question. There may be some value as well in registrations for the "e-edition," but it's hard to imagine many people using this clunky interface.
Print circulation still drives a lot of ad revenue, and rethinking the website makes a lot of sense, but the technology element alone makes this look like a doomed rearguard attack on the free-content problem.
Standard disclaimer: I contribute a column to the N&R but have never been an employee; I'm a paid subscriber to the print edition.
The developer-led task force supplanted a 19-member steering committee that included preservationists, property owners, architects and civic boosters.
I'm highly sympathetic to the property owners, many of whom I know on at least a casual basis after working on South Elm Street for 19 years. But Wharton makes a strong case:
"[S]omehow, buildings are being built in all those other places that do have design guidelines. Why is it that Greensboro builders and bankers should stand out in this respect -- that is, in their supposed inability to build attractive, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use buildings downtown?
Such clever nicknames. I know "fraud" is an ugly, legal term, but couldn't we at least call it "lying?"
Three big banks—Bank of America Corp., Deutsche Bank AG and Citigroup Inc.—are among the most active at temporarily shedding debt just before reporting their finances to the public, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows.
The practice, known as end-of-quarter "window dressing" on Wall Street, suggests that the banks are carrying more risk most of the time than their investors or customers can easily see. This activity has accelerated since 2008...
...Over the past 10 quarters, the three banks have lowered their net borrowings in the "repurchase," or repo, market by an average of 41% at the ends of the quarters...Once a new quarter begins, they boost those levels.
PP asks, "does anyone else think it’s strange that AmEx is being very tight-lipped about the data center?"
No, not really. Big companies are often secretive about their data centers. A lot of them don't even like to discuss where their facilities are located. Access tends to be limited, and security can be pretty intense.
I'd like to know more about the big project planned for Guilford County, but I don't see anything unusual about the slow flow of information from AmEx.
Reader HJ forwards an email from the N&R's Allen Johnson:
We are not posting our local columns on the Web site anymore. They are available through our e-edition, however, which is accessible through the Web site.
Took me a while, but I found a link to a page that lets you sign up for a free trial that lets you see "Your daily paper in electronic form Just as it appears in print!"
Less than an hour ago: "NYT paywall will link-friendly."
Losing David and Travis Wear to unexpected transfers became less of a problem for North Carolina's basketball team on Monday night when Alabama transfer Justin Knox committed to the Tar Heels.
Employees of a federal agency that regulates offshore drilling—including some whose duties included inspecting offshore oil rigs—accepted sporting-event tickets, lunches and other gifts from oil- and natural-gas companies.
...just looking the other way:
Federal regulators responsible for oversight of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico allowed industry officials several years ago to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil — and then turned them over to the regulators, who traced over them in pen before submitting the reports to the agency.
Previously: "The part of wisdom is not to destroy the Commission, but to utilize it."
Well into his 90s, Red Kinlaw would show up unannounced at my office to ask me to speak at his lunch club. Even as a very old man he got around on his own and kept his wits. I learned a bit about his life from our conversations, and I could tell the other men in his club looked at him with respect, but reading his obit -- Vance W. Kinlaw died last week at 100 -- made me think about the stories people carry with them, unknown to most they meet.
He headed west seeking work and adventure and found both. He learned the large-scale construction trade by working on Hoover Dam and the first railroad bridge across San Francisco Bay.
He met and married Dora Callahan, of Columbus County, in 1937. In 1939, he and his bride moved to the Panama Canal Zone, where he worked as a superintendent of construction for two years. After Pearl Harbor, he enlisted at the age of 33 in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A first lieutenant, he was stationed in southern England prior to D-Day and, after the invasion, in northeastern France. He served as the town major of Soisson and Epernay...
Luna is afraid of flatulence.
Get up and run out of the room afraid of it.
And once in a great while, she breaks wind audibly herself. It happened today.
This scares her worst of all.
You can see her tiny brain processing the terrifying news as she bolts to safety: OMG, IT'S RIGHT BEHIND ME!
More and more stories about sick fishermen are beginning to surface after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico...
...Marine toxicologist Riki Ott said the chemicals used by BP can wreak havoc on a person's body and even lead to death.
Meanwhile: "BP continued spraying the chemical on Monday despite the E.P.A.’s demand that it use a less toxic dispersant to break up the oil."
An email from a retired pastor praises yesterday's column ("Don't hesitate to plow this same ground again -- in case Bro. Knight needs another push!"), and also raises the question of saying grace:
When I have been in a "'mixed religion" group and called on without warning to pray for the group about to eat or meet, I usually quote a Psalm verse or ask the group to look at the good and beautiful in the world and in humanity, and to thank God for those gifts. In the church I serve, always my prayers close with ".. in the name of Jesus." But it would be sectarian of me to use a public meeting as a forum to evangelize unbelievers.
When asked to say grace I usually ask people to join hands silently in the Quaker manner. I've enjoyed many meals blessed in Jesus' name, and I'd happily eat at a table blessed in many other names as well.
My favorite grace story.
Who really runs the show, from the oily Gulf to reform-resistant Wall Street?
The real battle in Washington is seldom between conservatives and liberals or the right and the left or “red America” and “blue America.” It is nearly always a more local contest, over which politicians will enjoy the privilege of representing the interests of the rich.
The first federal regulatory agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission, was set up to regulate railroad freight rates in the 1880s. Soon thereafter, Richard Olney, a prominent railroad lawyer, came to Washington to serve as Grover Cleveland's attorney general. Olney's former boss asked him if he would help kill off the hated ICC. Olney's reply, handed down at the very dawn of Big Government, should be regarded as an urtext of the regulatory state:
"The Commission . . . is, or can be made, of great use to the railroads. It satisfies the popular clamor for a government supervision of the railroads, at the same time that that supervision is almost entirely nominal. Further, the older such a commission gets to be, the more inclined it will be found to take the business and railroad view of things. . . . The part of wisdom is not to destroy the Commission, but to utilize it."
Douthat taxonomizes Rand Paul as a libertarian of the paleocon subgenre, and says "paleoconservatives are self-marginalizing, and self-destructive."
Too bad, because we need more anti-imperialists and questioners of the military-industrial/drug war complex.
But as Doug Clark once said, "Libertarians really aren't interested in most voters."
Not at all unrelated: "Much of his agenda, he confesses, makes him 'a terrible Libertarian.'"
It turns out that, in the case of many news organizations, including some pretty prominent ones, just figuring out how to tell the newsroom that there’s a problem requires persistence and stamina.
Reporting a misspelled name to the Wall Street Journal is a lot harder than it should be.