Several academic and professional opportunities have presented themselves. Given that they involve social scientists and policymakers whose work I’ve long admired, I want to devote as much of my time, attention, and resources to them. Something must be sacrificed, and unfortunately, the blogosphere must be it. James has been kind enough to keep OTB’s door […]

Which Countries Are on the Brink of Failure?

Foreign Policy has partnered with the Fund for Peace to issue the first annual Failed States Index. Here’s the Top 20: Rank Country 1 Cote d’Ivoire 2 Congo 3 Sudan 4 Iraq 5 Somalia 6 Sierra Leone 7 Chad 8 Yemen 9 Liberia 10 Haiti 11 Afghanistan 12 Rwanda 13 North Korea 14 Colombia 15 […]

The Original 1040 Form

The Tax Foundation provides this historical Internal Revenue Service document, which stands out for at least two reasons: (1) it’s only four pages long and (2) it allows filers to calculate tax liabilities on their own. For additional information on tax simplification, see this earlier post. And if you’ve ever wanted to know the origin […]

Roger Ebert: Grade Inflater?

The answer to the following question, in my humble opinion, is “yes”: Thumbstruck: Is Roger Ebert a Little Too Kind? (TimeOut Chicago) There’s no doubt that Ebert still loves movies, which is admirable given that he’s reviewed more than 5,200 of them over the past 38 years. But maybe he loves them too much. Consider […]

British Investigations Yield Few Clues Thus Far

As Londoners returned to work today, they found little encouraging news: With No Leads, British Consult Allies on Blasts (NYT | RSS) British intelligence officials, frustrated by their failure to quickly crack the worst terrorist attack here since World War II, have sought help from counterparts in the United States and two dozen European allies […]

Contenders Emerge for Secretary-General of OECD

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is beginning to field candidacies for its premiere position: Candidates Vie for Top OECD Post (FT) The most senior candidate nominated so far is Marek Belka, prime minister of Poland. A former economics professor and finance minister, Mr Belka was previously the Polish representative on the Coalition Provisional […]

Property Ruling Angers Groups of All Kinds

The 5-4 Kelo v. New London decision may have split the Supreme Court, but it’s drawn virtually universal opposition. First, the religious right fears for their places of worship: Ruling on Property Seizure Rallies Christian Groups (NYT | RSS) In the aftermath of a Supreme Court ruling two weeks ago in favor of using eminent […]

Filipino Bishops Refrain from Advocating Resignation

Bishops Refuse to Ask Macapagal to Quit (FT) Catholic bishops on Sunday refused to join mounting calls for the resignation of embattled Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. They instead urged the creation of a fact-finding commission or initiation of impeachment proceedings to look into corruption and vote-rigging allegations against her. “In the spirit of humility […]

A Decade Later, Srebrenica Continues to Haunt

Tomorrow marks the tenth anniversary of the Srebrenica Massacre, prompting appropriate remembrances in the press. The Australian starts with the grave failures of the United Nations, particularly Kofi Annan: 10 Years on, Bungles Haunt UN Annan was in charge of UN peacekeeping operations in 1995 when Serbian forces led by General Ratko Mladic entered the […]

Philippine President Hears Calls for Resignation

Trouble returns to my native land: Pressure Mounts on Philippine Leader (WaPo) Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo faced intense pressure Friday to step down as 10 of her cabinet members and former president Corazon Aquino added their voices to those demanding her resignation. Arroyo, trying to weather allegations that she cheated in the last election, […]

Nike Revives Kobe Bryant Advertisements

The NBA superstar, whose endorsement deals suffered when he became embroiled in a very public rape case, has returned to the marketing business: Kobe’s Picture Reappears in Nike Magazine Ads (ESPN) Nike is using photos of Kobe Bryant for the first time since his arrest two years ago for an alleged assault on a female […]

Spain Speaks Out on 7/7: A Call for UN Action

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose rise to power after 3/11 sparked debate about whether Spaniards bowed to terrorists, has a Financial Times op-ed on the London bombings: A Global Consensus Is Needed to Defeat Terrorism Terrorism can only be defeated by a collective response on the part of the international community. In pursuing […]

A Disney Truce Emerges

Momentarily, it is again “the happiest place on earth”: Feud at Disney Ends Quietly (LAT) Walt Disney Co.’s incoming chief executive and its leading rebel shareholder declared a truce Friday, the most dramatic sign yet that the new boss is committed to sweeping aside the ill will that festered under outgoing CEO Michael Eisner. The […]

The American Reaction to 7/7

[Note: My thoughts and prayers extend to the British, whose compassion and resilience I’ve admired since my days at Oxford.] Tim Naftali makes the rather persuasive case that, in an ideal world, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff would have refrained from raising the terror alert and calmly beefed up police presence instead. But his […]

Bolton: The First Casualty of the Supreme Court Battle

In preparing for the most heated kind of nomination battle, the Bush administration seems to be distancing itself from yesterday’s fight: Bush Backs Away from Recess Appointment of Bolton (FT) President George W. Bush is unlikely to seek a recess appointment for John Bolton in the near future, increasing the sense that his nomination for […]

Survey: Meth Cited as Top Drug

Is there a new king of the underworld? Meth Abuse Cited as Top Drug Problem for Law Enforcement Agencies (AP) The crippling reach of methamphetamine abuse has become the nation’s leading drug problem affecting local law enforcement agencies, according to a survey of 500 sheriff’s departments in 45 states. More than half of the sheriffs […]

GOP Calls for Cooler Heads Regarding Gonzalez

Senior Republican leaders want grassroots conservatives to ease their criticisms of Alberto Gonzalez: G.O.P. Asks Conservative Allies to Cool Rhetoric Over the Court (NYT | RSS) The White House and the Senate Republican leadership are pushing back against pressure from some of their conservative allies about the coming Supreme Court nomination, urging them to stop […]

Deep Impact Brings NASA-Style Fireworks

DEEP IMPACT KICKS OFF FOURTH OF JULY WITH DEEP SPACE FIREWORKS (JPL) After 172 days and 431 million kilometers (268 million miles) of deep space stalking, Deep Impact successfully reached out and touched comet Tempel 1. The collision between the coffee table-sized impactor and city-sized comet occurred at 1:52 a.m. EDT. “What a way to […]

France Described as Key Intelligence Ally

According to Dana Priest, American and French authorities collaborate on an effective intelligence service: Help From France Key In Covert Operations (WaPo) Funded largely by the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, Alliance Base analyzes the transnational movement of terrorist suspects and develops operations to catch or spy on them. Alliance Base demonstrates how most counterterrorism operations actually […]

Putin Calls for Vodka Monopoly

Central planning comes to the Russian alcohol industry: Putin Plans Russia Vodka Monopoly (BBC) Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has called for a return to a state monopoly on vodka production, to cut the many thousands of alcohol-related deaths. Since the Soviet Union’s collapse, hundreds of little-known brands of vodka – Russia’s favourite tipple – appeared […]

Forehead Tattoo Sold as Ad Space

The subtitle of this post should be: “Online Casino Strikes Again.” Woman Tattoos Web Address on Forehead (CNN) For $10,000, Kari Smith has gone ahead and had her forehead tattooed with the Web address of a gambling site. Smith, 30, who sold her unusual advertising space on eBay, said the money will give her 11-year-old […]

Korean Culture Sweeps Asia

In a fascinating article, the New York Times provides an overview of South Korea’s initiative to export its culture: Roll Over, Godzilla: Korea Rules (RSS) South Korea, historically more worried about fending off cultural domination by China and Japan than spreading its own culture abroad, is emerging as the pop culture leader of Asia. From […]

Williams Sisters Outdo Tiger Among Blacks

In the Dallas Morning News, Kevin Blackistone contends that Venus and Serena Williams have attracted more blacks to tennis than Tiger Woods has to golf: Unlike Tiger, Venus and Serena Draw Black Players into Their Sport The reasons are clear why the Williams sisters have had a greater impact bringing other black athletes into tennis […]

King Kong Trailer Hits the Web

The preview for Peter Jackson’s much-anticipated version of the ape classic is now available. It looks very impressive. I detect a hint of Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones with, of course, many sprinkles of Lord of the Rings. If you can’t get enough, Kong Is King has a frame-by-frame breakdown of the trailer. It’s a […]

French Olympics Official Quits Amid Corruption

Olympic Official Quits Paris Bid (BBC) France’s former sports minister has withdrawn from the Paris bid to stage the 2012 Olympic Games because of his involvement in a corruption court case. Guy Drut is also standing down from his duties within the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He says he is innocent of the charges but […]

Members of Congress See “Progress” in Guantanamo

BBC News has some rather unexpected quotations: Conditions “Better” at Guantanamo Members of the US Congress who toured Guantanamo Bay prison have said that conditions there are improving, despite renewed calls for its closure. Their visit came at a time of growing concern that treatment of prisoners there is harming America’s image. More than 500 […]

Mad Cow Considered a Minor Health Concern

For Pete’s sake, calm down! Experts: Mad Cow ‘Minor’ Health Concern (AP) The newly identified case of mad cow disease in an animal from an American herd shouldn’t worry consumers, experts said, because the condition appears to be very rare and safeguards are in place to protect the food supply. “It certainly is a minor […]

Do Humans Have a “Halle Berry Brain Cell”?

Single-Cell Recognition: A Halle Berry Brain Cell (CalTech) World travelers can instantly identify the architectural sails of the Sydney Opera House, while movie aficionados can immediately I.D. Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry beneath her Catwoman costume or even in an artist’s caricature. But how does the human brain instantly translate varied and abstract visual images into […]

Trends in Interracial Dating

The Los Angeles Times reports some interesting, if unsurprising, numbers: A Cultural Exchange — of Vows Twentysomething brides and grooms are typically more accepting of interracial relationships than their parents. When the Pew Research Center in Washington began polling Americans about their attitudes toward interracial dating in 1987, only 48% of the public approved. By […]

Bush Administration Provides Aid to North Korea

Out comes the carrot: US Pledges Food Aid to North Korea (FT) Several million North Koreans struggling to stave off famine will receive food from the US this year, the Bush administration announced on Wednesday, declaring that its continued aid was humanitarian and not tied to progress in ending the communist state’s nuclear weapons programme. […]

Schwarzenegger Slips in Poll

The Governator faces some rather tough times: Schwarzenegger Approval Ratings Sliding (AP) Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s call for a special election and a new advertising campaign to promote his agenda have failed to arrest his slide in popularity, according to a new statewide poll. According to the Field Poll released Tuesday, 37 percent of registered California […]

Broadband and DVD Usage Rises

Welcome to the new millenium: Dial-Up Internet Going the Way of Rotary Phones (NYT | RSS) [Michelle] Phillips is among the seven million Americans expected to drop their slow Internet connections this year for high-speed lines, which are as much as 100 times as fast and are always on. As recently as six months ago, […]

OTB Inside the Beltway

I’m off to Old Ebbitt’s in DC for dinner with OTB co-blogger Robert Tagorda. I’ll be out of pocket most of the evening.

Mathematical Model Measures Hollywood Blockbusters and Flops

Nature describes a very interesting study that attempts to quantify moviegoers’ overall opinion of a film: Modellers Measure ‘Word of Mouth’ for Films [Cesar] Hidalgo, along with Carlos Rodriguez-Sickert, an economist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, and Alejandra Castro of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, constructed a mathematical equation that approximates […]

Wimbledon Urged to Commercialize

Wimbledon Host Told to Serve Up More Funds (FT) The private members club that hosts the Wimbledon tennis tournament is coming under pressure to allow greater commercialisation of one of the world’s most prestigious sports competitions. The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club has seen the funds generated by the tournament, which starts on […]

Playing the Vietnam Card in the 2008 Election

Dan McLaughlin, my co-blogger at Baseball Crank, has a comprehensive post on the Vietnam War records of numerous presidential contenders. It’s so detailed that it even discusses foreign-born governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jennifer Granholm. (In case you’re wondering: no, they didn’t serve. Sheesh.) Wisely, CNN’s Inside Politics spotlighted Dan’s work. Congratulations!

Iran Misled UN on Plutonium Experiments

Iran’s Plutonium Use Dates Back to 2003 (AP) Iran has acknowledged working with small amounts of plutonium, a possible nuclear arms component, for years longer than it had originally admitted to the U.N. atomic watchdog agency, according to a confidential report made available Wednesday to The Associated Press. The report, to be delivered as early […]

The Housing Bubble and Government Spending

When it comes to the real-estate market, the mainstream press has focused primarily on (1) whether a bubble exists, (2) whether the bubble will soon burst, and (3) how widely such a downfall will extend. Among macroeconomists, the debate has touched on whether the Federal Reserve’s post-dotcom moves paved the way for this “side effect.” […]

Phil Jackson Returns to the Lakers

The Zen Master will reportedly become the highest-paid NBA coach in history: Jackson, Lakers Reunite with Three-year Deal (ESPN) Phil and Kobe, together again. Phil Jackson is back with the Los Angeles Lakers following a breakup that took a year to mend, and back to coaching Kobe Bryant — a player he once called “uncoachable.” […]

Army Recruitment and Enlistment Propensity

In discussing the Army’s latest recruitment shortfalls, Kevin Drum highlights the following item from the Washington Post: Army Aims to Catch Up on Recruits in Summer Violent, long deployments to Iraq and a sound job market at home have combined to reduce what the Army calls the “propensity to enlist” — the percentage of young […]

Breaking News: Castro Is Still a Rabid Communist

Last year, the Cuban economy grew 3%. In each of the next two years, it is expected to rise by more than 4%. So perhaps it’s only natural that Fidel Castro wants to hinder progress out of sheer hatred for markets: Castro Tightens Grip Amid Boomlet (CSM) Beginning in 2001, the party leadership began to […]

Why Free Trade Is Significant

Max Sawicky discusses an economic concept that is “heretical to mainstream liberal economics”: Free trade is an issue where better-off liberals and writers for publications that cater to them look down their noses at criticism of laissez-faire economics. For some reason, markets that straddle national borders are sacrosanct, while those that do not are fair […]

Jimmy Carter Endorses CAFTA

At long last, Jimmy Carter does something right. Here is the State Department press release: Former President Carter Supports U.S.-Central American Trade Pact In a June 8 letter to congressional leaders including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, Carter said CAFTA will raise incomes in both […]

Riots Prompt Japanese Firms to Reassess China Operations

The Financial Times has what appears to be a preliminary look at the economic implications of the China-Japan rift: Riots Hurt Japanese Firms’ Sentiment on China Three in 10 Japanese companies operating in China are reassessing expansion plans after violent anti-Japanese demonstrations in April, reflecting widespread concern that sour political relations are poisoning business ties […]

Congress Begins to Consider Ways to Simplify the Tax Code

Tax simplification is climbing the domestic priority list. It represents either a shift away from or a complement to the Social Security drive (I suspect that the former applies, but opinion varies). It also has a chance to garner bipartisan support, if Greg Anrig’s post is any indication, though Republicans and Democrats obviously differ on […]

Some Iraqi Insurgents May Be Set to Disarm

If it materializes, this Radio Free Europe report would be welcomed news: Iraq: Some Insurgents Say They Are Ready To Disarm Al-Samarra’i, a former electricity minister, said on 7 June that the two groups — the Mujahedin Army and Islamic Army of Iraq — are ready to disarm and begin talks with the government. Al-Samarra’i […]

Iraq’s Banking System Begins to Modernize

According to the Christian Science Monitor, bank modernization serves as both an economic and a security tool: Iraqis Eye Credit to Boost Economy Shoppers in Baghdad no longer need to carry plastic bags full of cash, as they did after years of international sanctions reduced the value of a 10,000-dinar note with Saddam Hussein’s likeness […]

Orgasm Linked to Genes, Sperm Quality to “Competition”

Nature is always the ideal stop for groundbreaking scientific research, but one suspects that it’ll get more than its normal share of readers today. Genes Drive Ability to Orgasm A woman’s genetic make-up accounts for at least a third of her ability to climax during sex, say researchers, and may even account for as much […]

OECD: Free-Market Reforms Would Boost GDP

A working paper sponsored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development brings good news to proponents of market liberalization: OECD Champions Free Market Recipe (FT) Workers in advanced economies could gain the equivalent of a full year’s income over their working lives if countries increased competition in their domestic economies and reduced trade barriers, […]

Survey: Over Half of Americans Will Develop Mental Illness

The New York Times describes a study that’s provoking reactions for both its comprehensiveness and its results: Most Will Be Mentally Ill at Some Point, Study Says More than half of Americans will develop a mental illness at some point in their lives, often beginning in childhood or adolescence, researchers have found in a survey […]

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