Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! WTH is going on with the weather? When I got up yesterday, the temperature was -9 degrees! It got up to about 10 degrees during the day and back into the below zero numbers last night. On top of that, we have another nor’easter coming on Wednesday and Thursday. How much more of this can we take? Even southern states have been getting snow and cold this winter. Meanwhile, it’s way warmer than usual in the Arctic regions.

According to this article by Justin Gillis in The New York Times,

The immediate cause of the topsy-turvy weather is clear enough. A pattern of atmospheric circulation that tends to keep frigid air penned in the Arctic has weakened during the last two winters, allowing big tongues of cold air to descend far to the south, while masses of warmer air have moved north.

The deeper issue is whether this pattern is linked to the rapid changes that global warming is causing in the Arctic, particularly the drastic loss of sea ice. At least two prominent climate scientists have offered theories suggesting that it is. But others are doubtful, saying the recent events are unexceptional, or that more evidence over a longer period would be needed to establish a link.

Since satellites began tracking it in 1979, the ice on the Arctic Ocean’s surface in the bellwether month of September has declined by more than 30 percent. It is the most striking change in the terrain of the planet in recent decades, and a major question is whether it is starting to have an effect on broad weather patterns.

Ice reflects sunlight, and scientists say the loss of ice is causing the Arctic Ocean to absorb more heat in the summer. A handful of scientists point to that extra heat as a possible culprit in the recent harsh winters in Europe and the United States.

Apparently it’s all related to the jet stream being too “weak” and something called the “arctic fence.” Interesting article, check it out.

The Chicago Sun-Times is raising some questions about one of the judges who may have to decide what to do about Rahm Emanuel’s appeal of the ruling yesterday that he cannot run for Mayor of Chicago. The Illinois Supreme Court Judge in question is Anne M. Burke, who is married to a powerful Chicago Alderman–one who doesn’t support Rahm’s candidacy.

Now that Rahm Emanuel has been tossed off the mayoral ballot by an appeals court, Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, will each have a role in Chicago’s mayoral election.

Ed Burke, the city’s most powerful alderman, has said he’s backing Gery Chico — a former staff member for Burke and Mayor Daley who’s trailed Emanuel in every poll on the mayor’s race.

In the past Justice Burke has recused herself from cases involving Chicago politics. What will she do this time?

Dakinikat will probably like Paul Krugman’s latest blog post: The War on Demand.

Something really strange has happened to the debate over economic policy in the face of the Great Recession and its aftermath — or maybe the real point is that events have revealed the true nature of the debate, stripping away some of the illusions. It’s a bigger story than any one point of dispute — say, over the size of the multiplier, or the effects of quantitative easing — might suggest. Basically, in the face of what I would have said is obviously a massive shortfall of aggregate demand, we’re seeing on all-out attack on the very notion that the demand side matters.

This isn’t entirely new, of course. Real business cycle theory has been a powerful force within academic economics for three decades. But my sense is that the RBC guys had very little impact on public or policy discussion, simply because what they said seemed (and was) so disconnected from actual experience.

Now, however, we’re seeing a much more widespread attack on demand-side economics. More than that, it’s becoming clear that many people don’t so much disagree with the idea that demand matters as find it abhorrent, incomprehensible, or both. I fairly often get comments to the effect that I can’t possibly believe what I’m saying about monetary or fiscal policy, that no sensible person could believe that printing money or engaging in deficit spending will increase output and employment — never mind that all I’m saying is what Econ 101 textbooks have been saying for the last 62 years.

It seems the powers that be are determined to put us into a deep depression by basing policy decisions on Reaganite voodoo economics. And no matter how hard Krugman tries, I don’t think the guys in charge are going to wake up to reality.

There was a terrible suicide bomb attack at Domodedovo airport in Moscow yesterday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has vowed to track down and punish those behind an apparent suicide bomb attack at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport killed 35 people and injured more than 100.

[….]

Unnamed officials said three suspects were being sought over the attack.

Suspicion has fallen on Russia’s restive North Caucasus region.

Last March the Russian capital’s underground system was rocked by two female suicide bombers from Russia’s volatile Dagestan region, who detonated their explosives on the busy metro system during rush hour, killing 40 people and injuring more than 80.

But the airport was up and running again very soon after the attack, according to The New York Times.

Just hours after a suicide bomber struck at the international arrivals terminal at Moscow’s busiest airport on Monday afternoon, passengers coming off flights from abroad were being ushered through the very same terminal where bodies had only just been removed.

Some inbound flights had to circle for a time after the bombing, and some arriving passengers had to wait on the tarmac before being asked to make their way through the terminal. But Domodedovo Airport is an important transport hub for Moscow, the capital, and the authorities decided to keep it open.

Sheets of blue plastic had simply been hung to block out the scene.

Meanwhile, people continued to arrive to pick up loved ones and to embark on flights out of the city. It was as if officials, passengers and Muscovites in general were displaying a particular brand of Russian stoicism, if not fatalism.

The Huffington Post reported “exclusively” last night that:

The bipartisan panel appointed by Congress to investigate the financial crisis has concluded that several financial industry figures appear to have broken the law and has referred multiple cases to state or federal authorities for potential prosecution, according to two sources directly involved in the deliberations.

The sources, who spoke on condition they not be named, declined to identify the people implicated or the names of their institutions. But they characterized the panel’s decision to make referrals to prosecutors as a significant escalation in the government’s response to the financial crisis. The panel plans to release its final report in Washington on Thursday morning.

In the three years since major lenders teetered on the brink of collapse, prompting huge taxpayer rescues and amplifying an already painful recession into the most punishing downturn since the Depression, public indignation has swelled while few people who played prominent roles in the crisis have faced legal consequences.

That may be about to change. According to the law that created the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the panel has a responsibility to refer for prosecution any evidence of lawbreaking. The offices that have received the referrals — the Justice Department, state attorneys general, and perhaps both — must now determine whether to prosecute cases and, if so, whether to pursue criminal or civil charges.

Very interesting. Will Obama’s Justice Department act? Stay tuned….

I know I should be linking to stories about the SOTU, but I just can’t bear to do it. I’m already bored with the whole thing. So I’ll end with this story about new research on what is making the honey bees sick.

Ecologist Colin Henderson co-authored a study that may have identified the cause of the honeybee illness that has plagued U.S. bees since 2006. Henderson, 59, is an associate professor of biology at the University of Montana. He and colleagues there found a correlation between colony collapse disorder (CCD) and a lethal combination of a parasite and a virus.

The study, on which Army scientists at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center near Baltimore also collaborated, has been called groundbreaking (though also controversial because one of the study’s lead authors previously received funding from a maker of pesticides that some blame for CCD). By the way, for an overall house pest control service, consider having bed bug treatment lexington ky at premierpests.com. The honeybee die-off strikes about 20 to 40 percent of commercial beekeepers in a good year, Henderson says, and up to 60 percent in a bad one. When it hits a beekeeping operation, it can take out up to 70 percent of its colonies.

There’s an interesting interview of Henderson in the article.

So….. What are you reading this morning?