GORI, Georgia — The conflict between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia moved toward full-scale war on Saturday, as Russia sent warships to land ground troops in the disputed territory of Abkhazia and broadened its bombing campaign across Georgia.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
BEIJING—On his first full day here, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley headed not for the famously sculptural sporting arenas, but rather for the bowels of the metropolis, taking a ride on a state-of-the-art subway that would turn Chicago commuters green with envy.
His tour of a spanking-new subway line, one of four built since 2002 at a total cost of $7.7 billion, signaled just how badly he wants to polish Chicago's transit system, with federal help, as part of its bid for the 2016 Summer Games.
TBLISI, Georgia (CNN) -- Georgia's parliament Saturday approved a request by President Mikhail Saakashvili's to impose a "state of war," as the conflict between Georgia and Russia escalated, Georgian officials said.
- WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Friday that it had improperly obtained the phone records of reporters for The New York Times and The Washington Post in the newspapers’ Indonesia bureaus in 2004.
Friday, August 08, 2008
The private: everything else is between Edwards and his family. Not for the rest of us to figure out how this is supposed to affect their relationships and their marriage.
Just when you thought everyone had moved on... former advisers to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are in a tizzy over an upcoming piece in the Atlantic Monthly that chronicles the inner workings of the now-defunct campaign. Of particular concern are nearly 200 internal memos that the author, Josh Green, obtained -- 130 or so of which he plans to scan in and post online.
This ad is a lie, and it's part of the old, tired politics of a party in Washington that has run out of ideas and run out of steam. Even though a host of independent, nonpartisan organizations have said this attack isn't true, Senator McCain continues to lie about Senator Obama's plan to give 95% of all families a tax cut of $1,000, and not raise taxes for those making under $250,000 a single dime. The reason so many families are hurting today is because we've had eight years of failed Bush policies that Senator McCain wants to continue for another four, and that's what Barack Obama will change as President.
"They're trying to say, 'He's not one of us,'" Schumer said.
"I would answer back hard. What do you mean he's not one of us? It's John McCain who wears $500 shoes, has six houses and comes from one of the richest families in his state," Schumer said. "It's Barack Obama who climbed up the hard way, and that's why he wants middle-class tax cuts and better schools for our kids."
I think it's actually 8 houses, though it's hard to keep track.
Fannie Mae, the home financing giant, posted its fourth consecutive quarterly loss on Friday as home loan defaults increased and said it would slash its dividend more than 85 percent and take other steps to shore up its capital position.
Just three weeks after the federal government took sweeping measures to support Fannie Mae and smaller rival Freddie Mac , the Washington-based company reported a greater-than-expected loss of $2.3 billion, excluding preferred dividend payments, or $2.54 a share in the second quarter.
What’s more, the politics of stupidity didn’t just appeal to the poorly informed. Bear in mind that members of the political and media elites were more pro-war than the public at large in the fall of 2002, even though the flimsiness of the case for invading Iraq should have been even more obvious to those paying close attention to the issue than it was to the average voter.
Why were the elite so hawkish? Well, I heard a number of people express privately the argument that some influential commentators made publicly — that the war was a good idea, not because Iraq posed a real threat, but because beating up someone in the Middle East, never mind who, would show Muslims that we mean business. In other words, even alleged wise men bought into the idea of macho posturing as policy.
Though, it must be said, what we did wasn't just posturing. The dead are all still dead.
Georgian official says forces have shot down 2 Russian aircraft.
MOSCOW — Georgian government forces launched an effort to seize Russian-backed South Ossetia on Friday in a military assault that threatens to involve neighboring Russia into all-out war.
After a day of skirmishes, Georgian forces launched missile and artillery strikes late Thursday and early Friday, followed by a combined push of infantry and tank units aimed at capturing the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali.
By Friday afternoon, the parliament, a university building and the main hospital in Tskhinvali were partly destroyed or ablaze, according to South Ossetian officials and Russian state media. Various reports put the number of people killed at 15 or more, and the commander of Russian peacekeepers in the area told state media that he had lost men.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Mortgages issued in the first part of 2007 are going bad at a pace that far outstrips the 2006 vintage, suggesting that the blow to the financial system from U.S. housing woes will be deeper than many people earlier estimated.
An analysis prepared for The Wall Street Journal by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. shows that 0.91% of prime mortgages from 2007 were seriously delinquent after 12 months, meaning they were in foreclosure or at least 90 days past due. The equivalent figure for 2006 prime mortgages was just 0.33% after 12 months. The data reflect delinquencies as of April 30.
Some suggestion that lending practices got better in the second half of the year, though I doubt they changed too much. My guess is HELOCs and other refinancing did start to dry up quicker, making it harder for people to borrow to pay their mortgage.
BAGHDAD) Two Iraqi officials say the U.S. and Iraq are close to a deal under which all American combat troops would leave by October 2010 with remaining U.S. forces gone about three years later.
A U.S. official in Washington acknowledges progress has been made on the timelines for a U.S. departure but offered no firm date. Another U.S. official strongly suggested the 2010 date may be too ambitious.
It's more than 16 months after January, 2009, so Obama and McCain and Bush pretty much agree about everything on Iraq. [/davidbroderfredhiatt]
Jobless Claims Rise 7, 000 to 455,000. Expectations Called for Claims to Fall.
Meanwhile, the four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, rose to 419,500 last week, the highest since mid-July 2003.
The number of people continuing to collect unemployment benefits went up by 31,000 to 3.3 million for the week ending July 26, the most recent period for which that information is available. That was the highest since early December 2003.
Miami - A bus carrying U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman was involved in a collision after leaving Local 10 on Wednesday.
Lieberman was traveling in presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain's bus, the "Straight Talk Express," when it collided with a van at the intersection of 54th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Robert Hazard, 59, the Philadelphia-bred rock troubadour who wrote the pop anthem "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," died unexpectedly Tuesday night after surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, his widow, Susan, confirmed today.
Mr. Hazard, who lived with his wife and two teenage sons in the Adirondacks and in Vero Beach, Fla., last month had canceled a planned fall tour without explanation.
Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) says it has not escaped Democrats what the cost of gasoline and loss of jobs are doing to the country.
"This is their agenda," Bachmann states bluntly. "I know it is hard to believe, it's hard to fathom -- but this is 'mission accomplished' for them," she asserts. "They want Americans to take transit and move to the inner cities. They want Americans to move to the urban core, live in tenements, [and] take light rail to their government jobs. That's their vision for America."
Bachmann predicts gasoline will rise above $5 a gallon if Barack Obama is elected president.
ELKHART, Ind. (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday taunted Republican candidate John McCain for agreeing on the importance of keeping tires inflated as an energy-conservation measure after having joined the GOP in mocking the idea.
''It will be interesting to watch this debate between John McCain and John McCain,'' Obama said as he campaigned in Indiana with Sen. Evan Bayh, widely considered a top-tier candidate for running mate.
The bundle of $2,300 and $4,600 checks that poured into Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign on March 12 came from an unlikely group of California donors: a mechanic from D&D Auto Repair in Whittier, the manager of Rite Aid Pharmacy No. 5727, the 30-something owners of the Twilight Hookah Lounge in Fullerton.
Some of the most prolific givers in Sargeant's network live in modest homes in Southern California's Inland Empire. Most had never given a political contribution before being contacted by Sargeant or his associates. Most said they have never voiced much interest in politics. And in several instances, they had never registered to vote. And yet, records show, some families have ponied up as much as $18,400 for various candidates between December and March.
Both Sargeant and the donors were vague when asked to explain how Sargeant persuaded them to give away so much money.
Steve Howe defeated incumbent Phill Kline Tuesday night for the Republican nomination for district attorney in Johnson County, Kansas.
Kline made his reputation seeking to prosecute abortion providers in Kansas as the state's attorney general. He lost his bid for re-election in 2006 after the Kansas Supreme Court overturned his subpoenas for abortion records.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
WASHINGTON — Alice Rocchio is an office manager at the New York headquarters of the Hess Corp., drives a 1993 Chevy Cavalier and lives in an apartment in Queens, N.Y., with her husband, Pasquale, an Amtrak foreman.
Despite what appears to be a middle-class lifestyle, the couple has written $61,600 in checks to John McCain's presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee, most of it within days of McCain's decision to endorse offshore oil drilling.
Now two points, one, they know they're lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they're making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.
Keep your yard! Just understand the tradeoff.
Lawmakers need to work toward a sustainable solution. Increasing a gas tax that has remained unchanged for the past 15 years and has lost much of its value to inflation would certainly help, but the gas tax will bring in less money if Americans stay off the road or switch to other fuels. One solution is to charge commuters for the miles they drive instead of the gas they purchase.
No tax is perfect, including the gas tax, but it does in a very small way discourage driving by raising its price and encourage the use of vehicles with better mileage. These are both features, not bugs, and fretting about people perhaps not using as much gas kind of misses the point. That's a good thing! Oh and there's the "everyone install a GPS system so a central computer can track all of your movements" aspect, too. Need to raise more revenue, increase the tax. The big concern is that the political impossibility of doing that will lead to politicians searching for high tech back door methods of doing the same, blessed by Fred Hiatt's crew.
A new book by the author Ron Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein.The author also claims that the Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official “that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.”
Suskind writes in “The Way of the World,” to be published Tuesday, that the alleged forgery – adamantly denied by the White House – was designed to portray a false link between Hussein’s regime and al Qaeda as a justification for the Iraq war.
Monday, August 04, 2008
And this is an opportunity to tell my Morgan Freeman story. Went to watch some of the filming of Amistad, which was being done at the Rhode Island State House. At some point he came over to where the people were watching from, and this woman got incredibly excited and started screaming, "Morgan Fairchild! Morgan Fairchild! I love you Morgan Fairchild!"
He just smiled and shook her hand.
Here's the number 23 bus, traveling on top of the tracks and below the power lines that used to serve the number 23 trolley, which stopped service in 1992. Here's the trolley, about 6 blocks north of the picture taken above (pic from Phillytrolley).
Trolley service is unlikely to be restored anytime soon, sadly. Plenty of people opposed to rail of all kinds trumpet the flexibility of buses over rail, rightly pointing out that it's much easier to add and change bus routes as desired. But there's a downside to that, as bus lines tend not to attract the kind of long term transit-oriented development precisely because there's no guarantee they'll be there forever.
But that state of affairs can be improve if the transit authority does make an effort to lay down some markers which show commitment to a bus line. One way to do this is to elevate certain bus routes, ones with especially high frequencies, over others, marking them as key routes. The 23 bus runs every 8 minutes or so during the day, giving it a frequency similar to the subways. Creating transit maps which graphically conveyed this information, highlighting certain trunk routes, would provide people with a quick sense of what more convenient routes were. Knowing that, people might actually choose to live in certain places due to the presence of the bus.
At least until they bring back the damn trolleys.
Boscov's, the last department store chain based in this region, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning, seeking protection from creditors while it slims down into a company that can compete successfully and provide high-quality goods and services.
The 50-store chain, based in Reading, is a presence at most area malls. It said in the filing that it plans to close about 10 unprofitable stores after liquidating their inventories with going-out-of-business sales.
That'll eliminate quite a few jobs.
There are skeptics, though. Steve Linnell, a senior planner at the Greater Portland Council of Governments, said he doesn't think the region is ready for major changes.
High gas prices hit poor families the hardest. But many middle-class families are able to adjust to the higher prices without changing their lifestyle, he said. And the same holds true for many policy makers, who generally are affluent enough to keep to their same driving habits, he said.
"I am not convinced yet that $4 a gallon gas has made that much of a shift," he said.
To the extent that mass transit is simply a parallel system from getting from A to B, an alternative method of commuting to the highway, it is going to come down to a simple time/cost decision for people. But a more comprehensive mass transit system doesn't simply provide an alternative way to travel where that highway goes, it frees you from the necessity of car ownership. Of course a transit system, even an excellent one, isn't enough to get you there. You also need to create walkable neighborhoods around major transit stops.
The first wave of Americans to default on their home mortgages appears to be cresting, but a second, far larger one is quickly building.
Homeowners with good credit are falling behind on their payments in growing numbers, even as the problems with mortgages made to people with weak, or subprime, credit are showing their first, tentative signs of leveling off after two years of spiraling defaults.
The percentage of mortgages in arrears in the category of loans one rung above subprime, so-called alternative-A mortgages, quadrupled to 12 percent in April from a year earlier. Delinquencies among prime loans, which account for most of the $12 trillion market, doubled to 2.7 percent in that time.
Alt-A is where the big money is.
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama holds a 2 to 1 edge over Republican Sen. John McCain among the nation's low-wage workers, but many are unconvinced that either presidential candidate would be better than the other at fixing the ailing economy or improving the health-care system, according to a new national poll.
Obama's advantage is attributable largely to overwhelming support from two traditional Democratic constituencies: African Americans and Hispanics. But even among white workers -- a group of voters that has been targeted by both parties as a key to victory in November -- Obama leads McCain by 10 percentage points, 47 percent to 37 percent, and has the advantage as the more empathetic candidate.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The idea to double the size of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' home in Girdwood, Alaska, by jacking it up and adding a new first floor was hatched by Veco employees over drinks at the Alyeska Prince Hotel, according to two of the participants.
"This is what I'm thinking — I want to expand Ted's house," former Veco chairman Bill Allen told two of his trusted employees, his nephew David Anderson and Robert "Rocky" Williams. "How can we do this?"
The conversation was recalled in interviews last week by Anderson and Williams, federal grand jury witnesses who may testify at Stevens' corruption trial, scheduled for September. They said it took place in a suite at the Girdwood hotel rented for the night by Allen probably in the spring of 1999 or 2000, Anderson said.
•“Fox News Sunday,” Guests: Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican; Tom Daschle, a former Democratic senator from South Dakota; actress Ashley Judd.
•NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Guests: Sen. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat; Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent.
•ABC’s “This Week,” Guests: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat; Tom Ridge, a former Republican governor of Pennsylvania; David Gergen, a former White House adviser.
•CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Guests: Robert Rubin, a former Treasury secretary; Carly Fiorina, an adviser to John McCain.
•CNN’s “Late Edition,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat; Rob Portman, a former Republican congressman from Ohio; Kenneth Blackwell, a former Ohio secretary of state; Ron Kirk, a former Dallas mayor; Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling, the commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq; Tzipi Livni, Israeli foreign minister; James K. Glassman, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs; Laura Tyson, an adviser to Barack Obama; Nancy Pfotenhauer, an adviser to John McCain.