Monday, July 27, 2015

Short Takes

At least 13 killed in Somali hotel blast.

Boat belonging to missing 14-year-old boys found off Florida coast.

Fiat Chrysler faces record $105 million fine for safety issues.

President Obama delivers tough-love message to Kenya.

Senate resurrects Import-Export Bank.

The Tigers got walloped 11-1 by the Red Sox.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Short Takes

Dylann Roof, the alleged shooter in Charleston, is indicted on federal hate crime charges.

Secretary of State Kerry testified about the Iran deal before Congress.

The highway bill is running into a speed bump in the Senate.

Texas officials claim the video showing the arrest of Sandra Bland was not edited.

Five volcanoes erupted in Indonesia.

The Tigers beat the Mariners 9-4.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Short Takes

As noted below, Cuba and the U.S. re-opened their embassies in Washington and Havana.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to support the Iran nuclear agreement; votes to lift sanctions.

The military plans to increase security at recruiting centers following the shooting in Chattanooga last week.

Greek banks re-opened on Monday for the first time in three weeks.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a restrictive abortion bill.

The Tigers beat the Mariners 5-4.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Short Takes

The Greek parliament approved the bailout.

President Obama presses Congress to approve Iran deal.

NASA released the first photos of Pluto and Charon.

Nazi guard found guilty of 300,000 Auschwitz charges.

F.A.O. Schwarz closes its landmark 5th Avenue store.

R.I.P. Marlene Sanders, pioneering news broadcaster.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Short Takes

Here’s the deal — The New York Times explains the nuclear deal with Iran.

President Obama calls for major criminal justice reforms.

Wisconsin no longer guarantees days off for workers.

Nuns must comply with Obamacare opt-out rules for contraception.

Walmart sued for denying health insurance to gay worker’s wife.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Short Takes

Gone Quiet — Silence indicates that Iran nuclear negotiators are close to a deal.

Mexican authorities are searching frantically for the escaped drug lord.

New York offers Eric Garner’s family $5.9 million to settle case.

President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 non-violent offenders.

The Pentagon is finalizing plans to lift the ban on transgender soldiers.

Tropical Update: TS Claudette forms out in the Atlantic; heads to sea.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Agreekment

The Eurozone worked out a deal with Greece that sounds like the Greeks would have done better by going to a loan shark, and Germany is going to be the enforcer.

The agreement aims to provide Greece with its third bailout package in five years. The tough terms, demanded by Germany and others, are meant to balance Greece’s demands for a loan repayment system that will not keep it mired in recession and austerity budgets against creditors’ insistence that loans worth tens of billions of euros not be money wasted. Testy negotiations and Greece’s inability to live up to the promises made in its previous bailouts had put a cloud of distrust over the weekend’s discussions.

“It’s not personal, Fredo.  It’s strictly business.” — Michael Corleone.

Short Takes

Leaders work past deadline on Greek debt crisis.

Mexican drug kingpin escapes prison via tunnel.

Texas burger chain challenges state open carry law.

Kentucky gets swamped with torrential flooding.

Alligator Alley across the Everglades closed to rescue airboaters.

The Tigers head into the All-Star break at .500.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Short Takes

Iran nuclear talks go on past the deadline.

The Confederate flag in front of the South Carolina statehouse will come down at 10:00 a.m. today.

France steps up for Greece in Eurozone debt negotiations.

F.B.I. chief says ISIS-inspired plots for attacks on 4th of July were foiled.

Florida Supreme Court throws out Congressional redistricting map; eight districts to be re-drawn.

The Tigers best the Twins 4-2.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Short Takes

Glitches: United Airlines and the New York Stock Exchange suffered computer problems yesterday.

Greece proposed a three-year debt plan to a skeptical Eurozone summit.

Baltimore police commissioner given his walking papers.

South Carolina House votes 94-20 to take down the Confederate flag.

Washington NFL team loses trademark appeal.

The Tigers beat the Mariners 5-4.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How Quickly They Forget

The Germans are being hard-core on the Greeks about the debt crisis.  It wasn’t always that way.

As negotiations between Greece and its creditors stumbled toward breakdown, culminating in a sound rejection on Sunday by Greek voters of the conditions demanded in exchange for a financial lifeline, a vintage photo resurfaced on the Internet.

It shows Hermann Josef Abs, head of the Federal Republic of Germany’s delegation in London on Feb. 27, 1953, signing the agreement that effectively cut the country’s debts to its foreign creditors in half.

It is an image that still resonates today. To critics of Germany’s insistence that Athens must agree to more painful austerity before any sort of debt relief can be put on the table, it serves as a blunt retort: The main creditor demanding that Greeks be made to pay for past profligacy benefited not so long ago from more lenient terms than it is now prepared to offer.

But beyond serving as a reminder of German hypocrisy, the image offers a more important lesson: These sorts of things have been dealt with successfully before.

[…]

The recurring, historical pattern? Major debt overhangs are only solved after deep write-downs of the debt’s face value. The longer it takes for the debt to be cut, the bigger the necessary write-down will turn out to be.

Nobody should understand this better than the Germans. It’s not just that they benefited from the deal in 1953, which underpinned Germany’s postwar economic miracle. Twenty years earlier, Germany defaulted on its debts from World War I, after undergoing a bout of hyperinflation and economic depression that helped usher Hitler to power.

You would think that of all people, the Germans would get the idea.

Short Takes

Greece’s new finance minister showed up at an emergency financial summit without doing his homework.

Wildfires are scorching the Northwest.

The Chinese stock market is cratering.

London commemorated the tenth anniversary of the subway bombing of 2005.

Heroin deaths have quadrupled in the U.S.

The Tigers lost 7-6 to the Mariners in 11 innings.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Short Takes

Germany is keeping the pressure on Greece.

President Obama says we will battle ISIS on two fronts: militarily  and ideologically.

Many non-violent drug offense prisoners could be freed by the president.

South Carolina Senate votes to take down Confederate flag.

Scientists excited about possible AIDS vaccine.

R.I.P. Jerry Weintraub, 77, Hollywood producer.

The Tigers beat the Mariners 12-5.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Greece Pit

I don’t pretend to understand the intricacies of international finance other than the basics: Greece got into very deep debt during the Great Recession and has been struggling for years to get out by borrowing a lot of money from the European Central Bank.  Now they have had a referendum on whether or not they should accept a bail-out offer — now withdrawn — from the ECB, and they voted overwhelmingly to reject it.  Now it looks like Greece may either be kicked out of or will willingly get out of the Eurozone and go it alone, including reverting to their previous currency, the drachma, and the Eurozone will somehow try to recoup their losses.

Matt O’Brien at the Washington Post explains what happens next.  (If that doesn’t help, try this sketch from Monty Python from 1974.)  It won’t be pretty, and it could impact our economy as well, which means that the Republicans will try to blame it all on Obama.

Short Takes

U.S. women’s soccer team for the win over Japan 5-2.

Greece votes “OXI” (“No”) to the bailout.

Secretary of State Kerry locked in negotiations with Iran as deadline approaches.

New York prison escapee returned to the joint.

South Carolina legislators brace for Confederate flag debate.

The Tigers had a topsy-turvy weekend against the Blue Jays.

(Footnote: this is the 2,400 edition of Short Takes.  Good morning.)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Short Takes

Grecian Turn: Another attempt at getting out debt is proposed.

Six predominately black churches have burned in the last two weeks.

The government is investigating whether major airlines colluded on keeping prices high.

A federal judge in Alabama has ordered judges to issue marriage licenses to all comers.

R.I.P Nicholas Winton, 106, a Briton who saved nearly 700 children from the Nazis.

The Tigers lost 9-3 to the Pirates.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Do Your Job

Via TPM:

Rather than grant licenses to gay couples in light of the Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, at least two county clerks in Kentucky are not issuing marriage licenses to any couples — gay or straight — for the time being.

The clerks offices of Casey County and Rowan County confirmed to TPM Tuesday that at the moment the clerks are not granting any marriage licenses. The Clinton County clerks office would only tell TPM “no comment” when repeatedly asked whether marriage licenses of any type were being issued there.

Here’s a comment: if you can’t do your job because you don’t like the people who are coming to you for your service, then quit.  This also goes for pharmacists who won’t fill birth control prescriptions for women you know aren’t married or dudes selling hardware to people you suspect of being gay.

When you work for a government entity, your first duty is to obey the law, and when you open a business to the public, your first duty is to serve the public; all of them.  So do it or get out.  God will understand.

Going Into Overtime

Every little bit helps.

Paul Waldman explains:

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers have to provide overtime pay (usually time and a half) to employees who work more than 40 hours a week, but executives and managers are exempt from the requirement, as are those who make higher salaries. The trouble is that the rules don’t account for inflation, and so over time, what constituted a higher salary became absurdly low. The threshold has been raised only once since 1975, when it covered nearly half of U.S. workers; today it stands at less than $24,000, or lower than the poverty level for a family of four.

[…]

We should note that Obama could have gone higher than $50,400. Earlier this year, some Democrats on Capitol Hill worried that the administration was going to propose a lower overtime threshold, something like $42,000 a year. A group of liberal senators urged Obama to set the threshold at $54,000. They also argued that it should be pegged to increase with inflation going forward, an absolutely critical provision that would give the measure lasting effect. So Obama didn’t raise the threshold as far as they wanted, but he is accounting for future inflation, by pegging the overtime threshold to the 40th percentile of incomes.

Cue the GOP squawking points: Tyranny!  Unfair!  Job killer!  But since Congress doesn’t get to vote on the change, they can’t do anything but shriek, and good luck to the next Republican president who tries to take away overtime from millions of low to middle-income workers — also known as the GOP base.  Get your lead balloons here…