Monday, May 31, 2010

"Inside Europe - Defending the Euro Is More Than an Economic Issue" -

This is a good analysis but it still omits the European people on whose support all governments rest, including France and Germany. There is a limit beyond which those populations will not allow their leaders to go and I contend that what has been staked out in austerity measures already - and more to come - will push them over that line. Why is no one talking or writing about this limit? If I have its placement wrong, I'd be happy to hear another person explain it to me, but the idea of the limit is pretty hard to dismiss and everyone needs a better idea of just where that may be or unanticipated events will define it for us.

"Europe’s Banks at Risk From Slower Growth, E.C.B. Says" -

"BBC News - German President Koehler quits amid row over military"

This is simply - in my view - a further reflection of how vulnerable European governments find themselves at this time. There is an uninformed assumption that somehow Europe and European nations are a bureaucratic blob capable to doing that which they are forced to do because either economists think it is the right thing or they are pushed to do so by other countries and institutions. That is not the case. So much of Europe's ability to deal with the financial crisis is, ultimately but not remotely, dependent upon governments that are themselves dependent on democratically-obtained support. It is that support that is at greatest danger today.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Web Start-Ups Making Deals for Users’ Private Data" -

"As Deflation Looms, E.C.B. Keeps Its Eye Firmly on Inflation" -

"Latest oil spill developments" -

This is a good approach - summarizing latest developments. It's too bad that they don't promise to keep this up-to-date. I still cannot understand why one news organization or another - as opposed to Wikipedia - does not decide to do this.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Facebook After Death" - Motherlode Blog -

This headline caught my eye as my battle to retrieve or delete my Facebook accounts continues, unresolved. What has happened since my last post is that the formal complaint I filed with TRUSTe resulted in a ruling in my favor and an "order" to Facebook to fix the problem prior to the end of today. So far, that has not happened, and so I have this at least momentary vision of my Facebook page living on well after I have gone with no one able to change a thing! This is great news, for example, but only if you can get to the controls for your account, something that Facebook has deprived me of doing - without any explanation - for months.

"Wall Street Slips Lower and Euro Weakens" -

"Wall Street Tumbles Along With Europe and Asia" -

"Italy Set to Announce $29 Billion in Budget Cuts" - DealBook Blog -

"Time Flies?" - Freakonomics Blog -

I say yes!

"Britain’s New Government Facing Big Hurdles" -

"Debt Rising in Europe - Map" -

"Op-Ed Columnist - Toilets and Cellphones" -

Monday, May 24, 2010

"BBC News - IMF raises fresh concerns about the Spanish economy"

"Italians Fear Following Greece Into Debt Crisis" - NPR

"Media Behaving Badly" - MediaFAIL

One has to imagine a book titled "An Impartial History of the War of Northern Aggression" written by a Southern plantation owner. If such a book exists, I bet its author thinks just as aggressively that he or she is telling the truth -- as opposed to what others are reporting. It will be interesting to see if this veers toward truth in some objective way or toward the predilections of the site's operators. I am not optimistic it will be the former.

"The Media Equation - News Sites Look Beyond Grants" -

It's not going to work, in my view.

"News Outlets Cut Costs on Covering Presidential Trips" -

For those who believe this - a group of which I am NOT a member, they may say that a planeload of bloggers will take the place of the reporters who cannot afford to fly, no?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Op-Ed Contributors - The Measure of an Oil Disaster" -

I don't believe that any news organization is doing its job in pulling together all of the pieces of tis puzzle. There is far too much reporting on various comments and opinions and self-serving statements and not enough shoe leather used to pin down the details. If it were for me to decide, I would surely focus much more on the putting together of the puzzle than on the announcement of each new piece.

"Payback Time - Deficit Crisis Threatens Ample Benefits of European Life" -

I think we are going to see huge tumult in European countries before these reforms are adopted, and likely will imperil their adoption. It is very hard to imagine how we get from here to there in France or anywhere else. I think the reporting of the situation is not reaching the right people and is not giving us a clear picture of the situation.

"Tragedy in Detroit, With a Reality TV Crew in Tow" -

Why is it that in the course of exercising constitutional rights so many media, especially those media who carry video cameras, cannot exercise prudent judgment and do the right thing? In this case, it would have been to go film something else. The people in this business must look up to the SALAHIs in DC with huge admiration and I feel sorry for all of them.

"Weather Channel’s Move Beyond Forecasts May Be Costly" -

For a while, many thought that niche products and programming would prove the salvation of established media. Now that, too, is coming into question it would appear.

"Op-Ed Contributor - Europe’s Birth Pangs" -

That's interesting. The perspective we really need to hear today is not from a German editor of a business newspaper, but from the Greek on the street or any other person on the street of any and all European countries. In order to determine if there is a solution to the problems we all face, we need their views and concerns and hopes in the middle of the discussion. So far, that discussion is dominated by a few northern European leaders, some intellectuals, and financial people in the north of Europe and the US. This has to change.

Let's see at Op Ed from a 45 year old shop worker in Marseille, or in Bari, or in any town in Greece or in Cavan, Ireland, or any Spanish or Portuguese town.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"YouTube - Greece: a country on the edge"

"Greece Crisis | Athens Protests | George Papandreou"

Missed newspaper and news sites opportunity

The tragic oil spill in the Gulf is on the minds of most of us. I am struck by how much we are forced to bounce along from seeming news item to news item. Much of that "reporting" is simply passing on something heard from some place else, and we are not building and reshaping our full sense of the matter as we proceed. There is an alternative.

Suppose a newspaper decided that it would create a kind of wiki entry on the leak and keep it up to date? Any of us could refer to it when we like, see what has changed (maybe some highligthing or text distinction), and keep the big picture in clearer focus.

Thinking that the unknown Wikipedia contributors probably have done this already, I decided to go check. Indeed "they" are here.

I would feel a lot better if an editor or editors were in control of this. There are many ways in which this could be improved as it is quite long and does not give one a sense of what's expected to happen next. I would hope something could be done to allow as many as wish to do so to check the live video.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Twitter Fighting Order to Reveal Names of 2 Users" -

What will it take for everyone to do the right thing and abandon all of this obnoxious anonymity? It is not contributing to civil discourse or anything else, and those who run sites where these anonymous post their words can clearly adopt rules that posters and commenters will have to follow or go some place else.

"La Bourse de Paris et l'euro toujours en baisse" -

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Scientists Fault Response of Government to Oil Spill in Gulf" -

I hate to say it, but the President is letting us supporters down again. This is so disappointing.

"Twitter Expects Hundreds of Advertisers" - DealBook Blog -

How do newspapers get a piece of this?

"U.N. and International Officials Launch Global Effort to End Distracted Driving"

This is a great move, but they should not stop there. Ban the use of all handheld devices while driving a motor vehicle. That's the only policy that will protect us all from this driver distraction.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Gradual Growth of Blumenthal's Military Claims" -

"Op-Ed Contributor - Richard Blumenthal, Vietnam and the Technicality Generation" -

I know Larry PRESSLER, and I never felt that I would be saying he has said something better than anyone else, but he has and I am saying it. As Chris MATTHEWS said tonight on his MSNBC show, how can anyone lie about having served in Vietnam? How can anyone who has ever be trusted to tell the truth, especially as a US Senator. And, as I noted earlier, I speak as someone who came of age and eligible to be drafted about the same time as BLUMENTHAL and PRESSLER. I never dreamed, I can honestly say, that I became a Coast Guard officer only because it was a way to serve during those years; it was for me a clear option to going to Vietnam as a draftee. What PRESSLER has reminded me of in this piece is that because I did not go to Vietnam, someone less lucky than I had to serve......and I'll never know if he survived, and if he did, how well. That's a heavy burden.

"Shays Watched as Blumenthal’s War Claims Evolved" -

This is not the judgment that I expect from someone who might become a United States Senator. I see no way that he can explain himself out of this mess, and I think BLUMENTHAL should withdraw immediately so that another person can run in his place.

"Chinese Stocks Retreat Abruptly From Gains in 2009" -

Richard Blumenthal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It is a very interesting comment on information flow to note that nothing appears on the BLUMENTHAL website about this or on the website for the Democractic Senatorial Campaign Committee. But Wikipedia has the story included here:

"Vietnam controversy
On May 17, 2010, the New York Times published an article stating that Blumenthal "never served in Vietnam, despite statements to the contrary. The Times has found that he obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war." The Times also published a March 2, 2008, video where he states that, "I served in Vietnam".[57][58]

One of Blumenthal's Republican opponents for the 2010 Senate election, former Representative Rob Simmons released a statement, "As someone who served, I respect Richard Blumenthal for wearing the uniform, but I am deeply troubled by allegations that he has misrepresented his service. Too many have sacrificed too much to have their valor stolen in this way. I hope Mr. Blumenthal steps forward and forthrightly addresses the questions that have arisen about this matter."[59]

The article went on to state that Blumenthal has also misrepresented or falsified other parts of his record:

"In two largely favorable profiles, the Slate article and a magazine article in The Hartford Courant in 2004 with which he cooperated, Mr. Blumenthal is described prominently as having served as captain of the swim team at Harvard. Records at the college show that he was never on the team."[57]"

This is the note that I sent him last evening:

"In reading this story in The New York Times, I find myself greatly saddened.

Like you, I am a lawyer.

Like you, I had a marginal draft number in 1969.

Like you, I worked for Katharine GRAHAM -- when she was Chairman of the American Newspaper Publishers Association and I was senior vice president and general counsel.

Like you, I chose an alternative service. In my case, it was to become an officer in the US Coast Guard. I freely chose not to accept the offer I was given upon graduation from the Officer Candidate School training to take command of an 82 foot patrol boat on the Mekong Delta. If you check my story, my bio, my public comments, you will never find me saying anything other than this correct account. I did not go to Vietnam but I did serve during the Vietnam conflict, which I have noted.

I find your judgment in not being able to stay within the comfortable bounds of accuracy to be a fatal flaw – if the Times account is correct? – in your candidacy.

Unless you can show the Times’ report to be false, I think you have no choice but to withdraw from the race. I say this as a Democrat, sadly."

Monday, May 17, 2010

"Scandale fiscal : une ministre grecque démissionne" -

Greece cannot stand many of these. It is good they are doing this, but I fear that rather than making everyone feel better, these sorts of stories will make more people angry and worried about how many more may be lurking there.

"Inside Europe - To Preserve the Euro, Countries Must Give Up Some Sovereignty" -

Extremely dangerous times....

These two pieces point out very well the source of the crisis that I think is only get much, much worse.

From the Times of London and Paul KRUGMAN in The New York Times.

The euro countries and populations simply don’t think much of one another. Believe me, as we read about continued problems in the Balkans, Israel et al, in Rwanda (today) and all of the “troubles” that our Ireland continues to face in just getting people to get along, this takes generations and maybe never happens. Think of the US and how much latent racism and other divides persist all around us.

In any case, the intra-Europe dislike/hatred is heating up now in very negative ways and I think it is going to explode on streets and around many kitchen tables in many places in Europe in coming weeks – and then in voting booths and elsewhere. Governments in Europe will face challenges ranging from confidence to collapse.

As KRUGMAN points out, the kinds of things that have to happen simply are too much for people to swallow voluntarily and there is no one other than chaos to make them do it.

It’s an extremely dangerous situation.

"‘Mummy’ Merkel battered as Germans lose faith in EU" - Times Online

I see an incredible crisis brewing.

It ought to work better than this.....

Our AT&T/BellSouth landline service stopped working yesterday. I had been planting some flowers in the yard, and so I first thought that I had hit the phone line inadvertently. After digging up the flowers that might have posed this risk, I saw no evidence of the phone line. Our phones inside are attached to the phone jack and to the electrical outlet. So I went outside to be sure the problem was on AT&T's side of the "line". The electrical plug did not reach the outside outlet, so had to get an extension chord and a screwdriver. Yes, it appeared that this was AT&T's responsibility. So back to my computer - connected via cable - and after more searching on the site than should have been necessary, I got to the place to report a problem. Very confusingly presented and no 1-2-3 steps on just what to do. And I had to find our password for the account before going anywhere. I filled out the form and then checked to see if it was showing, and the site told me that orders such as that are only posted once every 24 hours! So no way of being sure. No e-mail confirmation receieved either. In what business does AT&T work, for heaven's sake? This morning, still not working. So got out my cellphone which I rarely use and called. I hit the wrong button at one point and called our home number. The phone rang! Dialtone back. Because the site did not let me check to see if there were any outages in our area, I was unable to tell if that was the problem or whether it was my garden trowel or something else. And what fixed it? My call? A repair in the neighborhood or remotely? It's too frustrating to even think of trying to find the explanation for all this. The path of least resistance is simply to hope that the phone keeps working!
Is that the way all of this should work in 2010? I don't think so.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"In Europe, Fears of a Deeper Crisis Are Intensifying" -

This is a very scary report, and I continue to believe that the situation in Europe is going to grow far worse before it stands any chance of improving. The “fear” factor is just too strong, and a few flareup demonstrations in various European countries may destabilize a lot of people. It seems to me that they are inevitable – the demonstrations/protest events – as the cutbacks sink in on all levels. Seeing how far the Asian markets have already dropped – tomorrow – is surely an indication – to me – that this situation remains highly volatile, at best.

"Suit Asks for Names of Online Commenters" - Media Decoder Blog -

Newspapers invited this problem by failing to require commentors to post comments in their real names. Allowing anonymous postings with fictitious names/pseudonymns struck me as dumb when it started and it has gotten more and more stupid over the years. Newspapers ought to do the right thing and bar such comments. Those believing they need confidentiality should be given a route to do so; but these would be rare exceptions to the rule of ... if you want to say something, say who you are when you do. Period.

"Geithner Tries to Calm Nerves Over Europe’s Uncertain Fate" -

This is a very good summary of the situation. What is still lacking in these reports, however, is the most important wildcard and that is whether people in Greece and in other European countries will accept the spending reductions that their leaders have pledged them to make. I continue to believe that those promises are beyond the proverbial tipping point of acceptance by most Europeans, starting with Greece. As the measures sink in, I think we will see surprisingly significant political instability and the resulting impact of that situation on the world's economic system, by fear or fact.

"Insights From a Week as a 311 Operator in New York" -

Isn't this a role that newspapers ought to be playing in the markets/communities they serve?

"Online Journalism Entrepreneurs" -

"Digital Domain - World’s Largest Social Network - The Open Web" -

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Giant Plumes of Oil Found Under Gulf of Mexico" -

It surely is remarkable that we seem to be ricocheting between and among academics, industry and government - with no one seeming as smart as they should be, including, I am sorry to say, the President. If I were he, I would stake my all on the three best experts in the world and rely on them to tell him and us what's going on. Clearly, so far, the government generally does not seem to be relying on anyone who knows anything.
This has to change. Fast.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Cellphones Now Used More for Data Than for Calls" -

This just shows that e-mail is the killer app when it comes to communication. Call it texting, or whatever you like - it's the same core idea of one person sending a message to one or many. That's the winner when it comes to what people most want to "create".

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Following the Aid Money to Haiti" - CBS Evening News - CBS News

This is a very interesting and I think, informative, piece. There are two things that bother me, however, about the story.
The first is that no other news organization seems to have dug into this story until now.
The second is that as I write this, more than 12 hours after the CBS report aired, I find no other news organization having mentioned it. This happens all of the time, and I find it very irritating. It likely stems from a sense of competition and a time-worn belief that all television "news" is to be questioned first and relied upon second. That may be true, but there are only several phone calls necessary to confirm some of the core elements of this report and it complelely befuddles me to understand why that has not already happened.

Imagine a "news day" that reflected the people of the world?

It's worth even a few seconds to think about this idea.... Suppose that our individual news days were different than whatever they are for most anyone I can imagine. Think about how the world breaks down with 300 million or so here in the US, 900 million or so in Africa and more than a billion each in India and China. Even those numbers only add up to something a little more than half of the world's population. So here is the "imagine" part --- think about your personal "front page" would look like if the stories were very good and distributed on that front page according to population? Is it better the way we do it now, or is that any better? Again, it's worth a few seconds of reflection, maybe more!

""Inquiétude, amertume et fureur" en Grèce face au "manque de perspectives"" -

This is where attention needs to be better focused for the rest of us - on how the Greek people begin to react to the austerity measures. Spain, as well.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Economic Scene - In Greece, a Reflection of U.S. Debt Problems" -

LEONHARDT is very good, but he spends too little time in Greece. To think that the Greeks are simply going to accept by decree what we are not able to do through our democratic institutions is just wrong. The sale is a tough here as there, and maybe tougher there. It's not the Greek people who agreed to the deal; it was those other people....the Greek politicians. They spoke for themselves and I surely am not optimistic that they will find that they have spoken for the people of Greece.

"Op-Ed Columnist - Greece’s Newest Odyssey" -

Excellent analysis!

"Facebook Executive Answers Reader Questions" - Bits Blog -

No answer here from SCHRAGE to my posted question on the NYTimes site about Facebook, and no way to contact him to ask why!

"E.U. Hopes to Ride Momentum to Healthy Economy" -

Hope springs eternal.

"More Americans Are Paying for Television" - Media Decoder Blog -

"Newspaper Industry’s International Trade Group Cancels Its Annual Conferece" - Media Decoder Blog -

"News Analysis - Europe’s Huge Rescue Raises Long-Term Doubts" -

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday is just one day

The extraordinary announcement yesterday from Euro zone leaders seems to have convinced most world markets that this is enough for now to put their Euro fears at rest. As I type this, the French market is up almost 9% today.
What I still don't fully understand is the extent to which the European commitment really covers all of the European countries at risk (except the UK), and it is in that understanding that I think we will see the full reaction of markets.
The leaders - France and Germany, primarily - who steopped out ahead on this one may very well have gotten ahead of the people they lead and this could cause big problems very shortly as the price tag for yesterday's news becomes better understood......while people in the south of Europe (starting with Greece) also come to appreciate more fully the cutbacks that will affect them individually.
There are many tails to all of this......and lots of ways in which they could start wagging in a destructive direction.
There is much basis for continued concern about how all of this will work out. Roger COHEN discusses some of this here, and I believe we risk a great deal in our search for a quick fix and our ritualistic desire to declare victory and go home right away.
This just looks too good to be true, but I will be delighted to wind up being proven wrong!
In the end, it is a volatile mix of finances/economics and fear/psychology.
Here are two more pieces that help focus one's thinking on Germany and on Greece. Neither one is especially encouraging.
Finally, this is an excellent summary of where things stand at the end of the (US) East Coast's financial day.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Waiting for Monday

Several shoes have dropped in Europe. MERKEL has lost considerable support in the Gemran state election. (For me, this is a bigger problem - suggesting a very serious, if not extreme problem, maintaining European - at least Northern - popular support for helping other euro countries.) No word from the UK on the next prime minister. EU leaders and the IMF are moving forward to help Greece, but the real key is not Greece but perceived willingness to the same for any European country. That's what is really needed, and I doubt very much we will see this.....Tomorrow will tell if this rather impressive announcement is perceived well by the world's markets. The commitment seems surprisingly large.

"The Tell-All Generation Learns When Not To, at Least Online" -

I continue to believe that the best antidote for all of this is to encourage people of all ages to use the technology in their own names in public. Keep e-mail and maybe some other one-to-mostly-one technologies for more personal communications, with care, but use the posting capability in their own names, too, and assume that everyone and anyone will see it. Our public discourse would be immeasurably improved and a lot of people would avoid the disappointments and tragedies noted in this story.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

A weekend for show, mostly....

I think most of the scurrying about that we are seeing in Europe this weekend is all window dressing. It is highly unlikely, in my view, that the European Union as manifested through either the European Commission or the European Central Bank will stand behind ALL of its members, and that's what I think the market wants to hear. Greece is not good enough.The European leaders will do the best they can, but their best is not good enough for what the situation demands.
Consider the situation in the UK and the huge risks to the global market that it faces even without the uncertainty of the election results. This article sums up the UK situaiton all very nicely.  And this one is a real cheery piece as well.
Between now and Monday morning, two critical things will happen. One is that we will see if John BURNS, one of the New York Times' very best correspondents, is right in his reporting here and we will know how badly the MERKEL government is hurt by the state election in Germany tomorrow.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The complex European situation remains just that.....

A few notes on things that are happening today…..
+ The British election results are unclear. In reviewing the numbers and the positions of the parties, it is really hard to see which of the two options – a Conservative government with support from Liberals and/or other parties or a Labor government with support from the same – will emerge. Neither will provide the strength of government that many had hoped might emerge, and the uncertainty could last for a while, unless the Queen decides she’s had enough of this (which is HIGHLY unlikely)!
+ There is great “scurrying about” among world financial leaders that may leave people expecting more than they possibly can deliver.
+ Spain is sending quite mixed signals today with huge concern over debt and unemployment alongside of the announcement that they have emerged from recession. It seems to me that the psychology of all this could either make that bad or good news.
+ This FT story sums up much of the activity and underlines the continued grave concerns.
+ The problem with all of these European numbers is that a lot of people have to agree in order for the market to go up, or here, to go down. It’s the sentiment that worries me and seeing lots of rumors flying about is not helping that sentiment at all. Whether it is certifiably “contagious” or not really is not the point; what is clear is that tremendous instability has been introduced into these and other markets. What I keep saying is that I don’t see the person or the institution capable of taking the kind of European or global action that our President (through Treasury or any other means at his disposal) and our Federal Reserve would be empowered and able to do if the situation merited it, as it seems to me it does in Europe right now.
“Markets Alertfrom The Wall Street Journal
European stock markets ended their worst week in 18 months, part of a global selloff amid fears that Greece's financial problems are spreading.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 Index ended down 3.9% at 237.19, bringing losses for the week to 8.7%. That’s the largest weekly percentage drop for the index since the week ended Nov. 21, 2008, when it fell 11.5%.
The U.K. FTSE 100 lost 2.6% Friday to 5123.02, while the French CAC-40 fell 4.6% to 3392.59 and the German DAX declined 3.3% to 5715.09.”

"Ask Facebook Your Privacy Questions" - Bits Blog -

Note that my Facebook problem wound up as the first comment in the attached..... Already, I have gotten one e-mail from someone offering a posisble solution. I'll be anxious to see what else comes my way!
What's especially interesting in looking at the more than 200 comments that have been added to the New York Times post, is how many of the people who choose to comment do so with pseudonyms of one sort or another. I quickly ran through the first 100, and could not fnd more than 14 people who appear to be using their normal names, as I did. One has to wonder a) why these people prefer to live a makebelieve life and b) how representative they are of normal people who tend to introduce themselves as Jane SMITH instead of something like Pineapple Lady.

"Can Computers Replace Journalists?" - Freakonomics Blog -

KRUGMAN's got it right

I think that Paul KRUGMAN describes well the no-win dilemma which increasingly confronts us.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ειδήσεις Google

I thought it might be really helpful to look at the Google news page for Greece to follow the Greek perspective on what is happening. Yesterday, this seemed quite helpful, but today, there is little to shed any light on the Greek view of what's happening. It may be because of a strike there, but I am disappointed that this does not provide a better opportunity to follow the situation through the Greek news media. Perhaps this is just an "off" day, but clearly one on which there is great interest to see what is happening in Greece.


Everything we are seeing in European affairs – behind the markets - was forseeable and very close to what I predicted, however unfortunate it is to get this one right. I do not expect that any of the European part of this will settle down any time soon because there really is no person or institution (including the European Central Bank) that can (i.e., has the legal or practical capacity/capability) to deal with the full complexity of this.
It is very unclear in my mind what will happen next, but I think psychology and fear are going to drive more than will reason and understanding. I do not think the Greek deal will hold for many reasons, and I think other countries will now be hit very hard, starting with Portugal, Ireland, add Italy, too, and Spain. But the real results of the UK election will be the next predictable shoe to drop – that’s not going to be known before about 11 PM and even then, no one will know the likely shape of a new British government. That new government will determine in the minds of so many how the financial threat posed by the UK impacts and will impact everything else. That could take days to be known.


Le Monde, which remains the most important newspaper in France as far as this crisis is concerned, is now running this story citing a variety of experts, the consensus of which seems to be – as I did the other day – that the euro may very well drop within the “zone” that I described, down to about 1 USD or perhaps even lower, and that this could happen quickly. The article is in French.

More Greece

I have a lot of confidence in what Simon JOHNSON says, and he and the other fellow say it very well here. There is a “tail” on the Greece issue that few are addressing because it is not happening today. That’s the reaction of both the Greek people and its economy to what is being put in place. We may not know this for quite a while, and so there could be a brief period of false confidence, especially if demonstrations are kept modestly under control and therefore do not draw big headlines.

As I have said several times, the complexity of this situation is immense. No one can wave a single magic wand and deal with it, even if that were imaginable. That’s the crux of why I think this is both such a dangerous time with the prospects of zany volatility. Actions and reactions of perceived significance will be coming, I think, from people in the street, people in elected offices, people in appointed offices, voters, bankers, labor unions, retirees, youth, and many more – any of which can have a dramatic impact on any or all of the others.

This Moody’s report certainly sounds like a fair view of the current situation in my view, to be affected next – I think – by the results of the British election (to be known late tonight and tomorrow, with much to happen beyond the mere poll results in terms of how a new government is formed and how it is perceived), and by the uncertainty over how the Greek population and its government is going to come off the events of yesterday.

"Editorial - Fear Itself" -

This case is extremely well put in the NYT editorial and I could not agree more strongly with its message. We all get to decide what we think is "American", and I view the positions of Sens McCAIN and LIBERMAN as being wholley un-American. The values that they attack are among the most important ones upon which the strength of our country rests.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


I am sure that you have seen the reports of the demonstrations in Greece today. Yes, it is tragic that three bank employees (2 women, one man) lost their lives by suffocation in the fire. And we will see that as headlines for the most part over the rest of today.
What happens next is critical because of Greek demonstration history. This could break one of two ways – collective national horror over the deaths and so a dampening of the protest, or something far worse than we are seeing today. Already, other unions have called for more national strikes tomorrow. Today’s demonstrations were not limited to Athens despite what you will see and read. They extended to Thessaloniki, which I believe is Greece’s second largest city – if not 2d, it’s one of the largest. There was widespread damage there to shops and businesses, as reported by the few Greek newspapers adding content in Greek or English to their sites today – all of the reporters in Greece joined in the strike today, and we will have to see if they are back tomorrow.
This is rough translation of one of the only stories coming out of Greece today – from Greek reporters – about how things are going. This, along with a photo outside the bank that was burned, likely will be on front pages all over Greece tomorrow if the papers go to press. In assessing what’s going on, it’s as important to watch the economics and the financial news as it is to imagine how this is going to play with the Greek people.

I would still put the whole matter in the “extremely volatile” category, not just in Greece, but throughout the PIGS and the rest of the euro zone.
From Ta Nea:

“New 3.91% dip made today by general price index of the ASE and stood at 1662.10 points and intensifies the fear of "domino effect" across southern Europe from the Greek crisis. Big rise and spread of Greek bonds, which exceeded 780 basis points. Plunge and the euro, which was found today at a low of 14 months at the rate against the dollar to fall below 1.28.

Since the shares have negotiated 26 shares strengthened, 160 recorded losses and 35 remained stable. The turnover stood at 247.28 million euros. The shares of National Bank closed at 10.65 euro loss 1.84%, Alpha Bank at 5.05 euros to 3.81% loss, Piraeus to 4.88 euro lost 2.20% and Eurobank in 5 euro lost 5.66%.

Fears of domino effect in the euro area by the economic crisis in our country and the unprecedented events in Athens sank the stock markets, the euro dropped and fired soaring borrowing costs in Greece, Spain and Portugal are the weakest links in the European Union .

The Athens Stock Exchange dropped to 2% before the attacks was found to lose 6% and finally ended with a drop 3.91% to 1662.1 points is the lowest year. Madrid, Lisbon, London, Paris and Frankfurt closed with a drop

Fears that the Greek government may face resistance to implementation of tough austerity measures adopted to obtain the assistance of 110 billion from the European Union, the IMF and the warnings of leading European politicians and bankers to risk dominoes in the euro area, sink euro.”

"Glitch Brings New Worries About Facebook’s Privacy" -

Greek taxpayers

I wonder if there is anyway to go to Greece and be sure you are not paying someone for the stay who is not avoiding paying Greek taxes? So many upper income Greeks appear to be avoiding taxes. How can a visitor be sure that the Greek government will receive its fair share of what the visitor spends while in Greece?

Locked out of Facebook!

I have had a very modest Facebook page for quite a while, althought I have not looked at it often. Some weeks ago, I decided that I would access it and adjust a few of the contents, as I think most of us do on occasion. For some reason, I either did not have my password with me, or the one that I thought was right would not work. So I asked for a reminder.

Facebook says that it will send an e-mail with a new password and/or instructions on how to deal with the missing password issue - probably by coming up with a new one. That was fine by me, as most good sites seem to operate like that.

BUT, I never got the e-mail. Not in spam, nowhere.

So I tried again, and again. I bet I have tried a dozen times and no e-mail has arrived, even tho Facebook says that it is sending the message to the correct e-mail address.

So I poked around and found a place where I could report this to Facebook. I have done that a half-dozen times now and no response.

So, here is my page but I cannot change anything on it. Facebook will not let me set up another page at this e-mail address. I don't seem to be able to delete my present "account". They won't respond to me and provide no help desk or number.

For an era where we are to be so interconnected and functioning so efficiently, it is notable if not disconcerting, that a company rolls along as they do casting aside those who run into difficulties as I have. We are simply the cost of doing business, and I intend to let as many people I know who use Facebook, especially as advertisers, know of this and ask for their support in either getting Facebook to pay attention or in going elsewhere with their "eyeballs" and wallets.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Craig's List v. newspapers

Think about this... It appears that Craig's List may have been the service used by the alleged would-be bomber in New York City over the weekend to buy the truck that carried the explosive/flammable materials. Craig's List is also under assault, stretching back a long time but reignited again by television coverage and an inquiry by the Connecticut Attorney General, for carrying illicit sex/prostitution advertising.

Craig's List did not exist a few short years ago.

If we were back then, and those selling a vehicle or sex wanted to place an ad, their best shot would have been a local newspaper, or some sort of magazine or specialty publication.

Those organizations have generally looked at what they publish and made a decision on whether it passed some sort of minimal test of respectability and legality. Craig's List is simply not set up to do this. Instead, it is designed to take all comers and let the buyer beware.

Having said that, I realize that Craig's List says that it is trying to deal with this, but that's not its "business model" and one of the reasons that it can operate so much more cheaply than can a newspaper.

Are we giving up more than we really want to surrender when we opt for a Craig's List approach to publishing v. one that relies on some rules and standards?

"Architecture - Newark Project With Schools and Housing for Teachers" -

As I travel about, I find myself paying more attention to architecture. One of the things I have come to realize is that most architects, or at least the projects that carry their names, design islands not portions of streets connected to other properties by a shared property line.

The result of this is that buildings like the one computer-generated for this article look grossly out of place and needlessly so. Why is it so hard for an architect to design a building that integrates itself well into its surroundings. Sure, it can improve them, but why do designers always ignore how poorly the new building goes with those around it?

And while nothing this, I'll another point that I find quite frustrating. Why is that a building, perhaps such as this one, are not presented in a manner and then constructed in a way that makes the link for pedestrians - and, ok, cars if you must - between the new property and those around it very clear? Designers ought to feel an obligation to sort out where someone walks when they leave the new property, and try to add to the plan something that addresses any obstacles in that path.

Monday, May 03, 2010

"Innocent Abroad…With a Laptop" - Nicholas D. Kristof Blog -

"Teaching New Doctors the Cost of Those Tests They Order" -

I think we all need to take this course!

"L'appel à la raison" des juifs européens à Israël" -

I wish we would see many more such appeals to "reason" coming from Jews in the US. The French and European Jews surely seem to be looking out for the very best interests of all of the people involved, and not just Israelis and Jewish interests. Seeing a little more of this coming from the US would leave me, for one, with more of an open mind than I now have about the Israeli point of view.....