January 30, 2015
Loretta Lynch, President Obama's nominee for attorney general, disagrees with him on marijuana. That weed is not safer than alcohol might have been the most controversial thing she said during her confirmation hearing Wednesday. As Danny Vinik notes, polls show that large majorities of Americans believe that alcohol is more dangerous.
They're right, as a matter of medical science. Wonkblog has noted repeatedly that alcohol is a very dangerous drug, both to users and to the people around them, and government statistics reflect the fact that marijuana is much safer. That's not to say it's safe, particularly for adolescents, but Lynch appears to be overstating weed's dangers.
This is important, as the attorney general has the authority to remove marijuana from Schedule 1, the most dangerous classification of drugs. Doing so would give researchers a chance to study weed carefully, and figure out whether it's possible to safely and effectively prescribe it for medical purposes.
What's in Wonkbook: 1) Fed keeps schedule for rates 2) Opinions, including Flavelle on college savings 3) The earthquakes in Oklahoma just won't stop, and more
Chart of the day: Obama's tax proposals would raise taxes on the wealthy while lowering them for the poor, on average. For the rest of the country, families and people in college would benefit, according to the Tax Policy Center, but the proposal would be a wash for the middle class as a whole. The Washington Post.
1. Top story: Federal Reserve still plans on raising rates this year
Optimistic about the economy, the Fed stays the course. "Treating the recent turmoil in markets as essentially meaningless noise, the Fed issued its most upbeat assessment of economic conditions since the recession, after its first policy-making meeting of the year, in a statement that noted solid economic growth and strong job growth. ... Fed officials for more than a year have pointed to the summer of 2015 as the likely time for the central bank to increase its benchmark interest rate, but investors are increasingly convinced that the sluggish pace of inflation will force the Fed to wait until fall at the earliest." Binyamin Appelbaum in The New York Times.
Primary source: The statement of the Federal Open Market Committee.
Investors don't share that optimism. "Sure, investors are fighting the Fed. But the Fed is fighting reality. Even with falling oil prices and the rising dollar poised to put the freeze on inflation, Federal Reserve policy makers still look as if they hope to start raising rates in June. ... Yet credit-market participants have come to think the Fed’s liftoff on rates will likely come later. Federal funds futures, which price off of Fed target-rate expectations, now put higher odds on the central bank tightening policy in September than in June. And Treasury yields have fallen markedly over the past month. Fed officials may act like they can raise rates despite what is happening with inflation readings, but investors are questioning whether that is really the case." Justin Lahart in The Wall Street Journal.
DUY: Unless things get better quickly, central bankers might have to change their plans. "Within the context of the current forecast, I think that June will be difficult to justify in the absence of wage acceleration. A sharp decline in the forecast, or the balance of risks to the forecast, would also prompt a delay. Importantly, at this point they see the current forecast as still the most likely outcome." Economist's View.
2. Top opinions
FLAVELLE: Obama gives in to the affluent and agrees to keep the 529 program. "The debate over 529 accounts, which allow families to avoid paying income taxes on money they save for higher education, revolved around the degree to which those accounts disproportionately benefit the wealthy. People who supported ending the tax break pointed out that the median income of families who use it is three times that of families that don't. ... How can we expect to fight inequality if we're unwilling to close loopholes that tilt toward the wealthy? If this program was too dear to the hearts of the upper middle class to consider cutting, can anyone name one that isn't? And what good is talking about inequality if we won't surrender programs that exacerbate it?" Bloomberg View.
New York Times editor: we failed to do our job after 9/11. Dean Baquet admits that US mainstream media did not ask ‘hard questions’ about Bush administration’s prosecution of so-called war on terror
Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, believes his newspaper – in company with the US mainstream media – failed their audiences after 9/11.
He told the German news magazine Der Spiegel that he agreed with the criticism originally made by an NYT reporter, James Risen,
Baquet said: “The mainstream press was not aggressive enough after 9/11, was not aggressive enough in asking questions about a decision to go to war in Iraq, was not aggressive enough in asking the hard questions about the war on terror. I accept that for the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times”.
Baquet, in charge of the NYT since May 2014, was previously editor-in-chief of the LA Times. In his wide-ranging interview with Der Spiegel, Baquet also spoke about the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden having chosen to tell his story to the Guardian.
He said he regards the Guardian as “a new competitor [for the NYT] in the digital age.” He said: “Does it make me nervous that they compete with us and in fact beat us on the Snowden story? Yes.
Der Spiegel asked: “How painful was it as an institution thatEdward Snowden didn’t approach the New York Times?” Baquet replied:
It hurt a lot. It meant two things. Morally, it meant that somebody with a big story to tell didn’t think we were the place to go, and that’s painful. And then it also meant that we got beaten on what was arguably the biggest national security story in many, many years.Not only beaten by the Guardian, because he went to the Guardian, but beaten by the [Washington] Post, because he went to a writer from the Post. We tried to catch up and did some really good stories that I feel good about. But it was really, really, really painful.
It was suggested that Snowden didn’t approach the NYT because it had refused to publish the initial research about the NSA’s bulk collection in 2004.
Asked whether it was mistake to have held back on that reporting, Baquet pointed out, reasonably enough, that he wasn’t at the NYT at the time.
The magazine also asked Baquet about digital rivals, citing a leak of an internal NYT document saying that its “journalistic advantage” was shrinking in the face of online competitors. Baquet said:
We assumed wrongly that these new competitors, whether it was BuzzFeed or others, were doing so well just because they were doing something journalistically that we chose not to do. We were arrogant to be honest.We looked down on those new competitors, and I think we’ve come to realize that was wrong. They understood before we did how to make their stories available to people who are interested in them. We were too slow to do it.
Proposition 48 is a ballot initiative that would not only legalize both medical and recreational marijuana in Mississippi but industrial hemp production as well. Additionally, Prop 48 calls on the Mississippi Governor to pardon all persons convicted of non-violent marijuana crimes.
What’s in it?
A decentralized project
Several UN conferences set in motion the hoax that is based on the assertion that carbon dioxide (CO2) was causing a dramatic surge in heating the Earth. IPCC reports have continued to spread this lie through their summaries for policy makers that influenced policies that have caused nations worldwide to spend billions to reduce and restrict CO2 emissions.
“The atmosphere,” Dr. Ball notes, “is three-dimensional and dynamic, so building a computer model that even approximates reality requires far more data than exists and much greater understanding of an extremely turbulent and complex system.” No computer model put forth by the IPCC in support of global warming has been accurate, nor ever could be.
January 29, 2015
A spelling mistake has caused the end of a 124-year-old family business and could end up costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
The Telegraph reported the British High Court has found government agency Companies House was liable for the demise of engineering firm Taylor & Sons Ltd, after they wrongly recorded that the Welsh company had been wound up.
in 2009 Companies House confused Taylor & Sons Ltd with Taylor & Son Ltd, a completely different company that had gone into liquidation.
When it realised its mistake three days later, Companies House tried to correct it but it was too late.
Taylor & Sons Ltd co-owner and managing director Philip Davison-Sebry told the Telegraph Companies House had already sold the false information to the credit reference agencies.
“We lost all our credibility as all our suppliers thought we were in liquidation," he said.
"It was like a snowball effect.”
Within just three weeks Taylor & Sons' 3000 suppliers terminated their orders.
The company is a family run business that was established in 1875 but within two months of the error it had gone into administration.
After a four year court case, a High Court judge ruled this week that Companies House was legally responsible for Taylor & Sons’ collapse.
Mr Davison-Sebry's lawyers told the Telegraph they have valued his claim at $17 million dollars, which will have to be paid by the British Government.