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News Roundup: Taliban, Mandatory sentencing, Russian Economy

You can tell me that you are an agent of God. Okay, I will believe you, but I will also watch your actions. If you are killing children in the name of God, you are confused. The Taliban in Pakistan stormed a military school and killed over a hundred people in the name of God. They are sad and misguided.

A federal judge speaks out against mandatory sentences.

The Russian economy is imploding (more from Krugman):

It’s impressive just how quickly and convincingly the wheels have been coming off the Russian economy. Obviously the plunge in oil prices is the big driver, but the ruble has actually fallen more than Brent — oil is down 40 percent since the start of the year, but the ruble is down by half.

What’s going on? Well, it turns out that Putin managed to get himself into a confrontation with the West over Ukraine just as the bottom dropped out of his country’s main export, so that a financing shock was added to the terms of trade shock. But it’s also true that drastic effects of terms of trade shocks are a fairly common phenomenon in developing countries where the private sector has substantial foreign-currency debt: the initial effect of a drop in export prices is a fall in the currency, this creates balance sheet problems for private debtors whose debts suddenly grow in domestic value, this further weakens the economy and undermines confidence, and so on.

The central bank may (or may not, as seems to be true in Russia right now) be able to limit the currency plunge by raising interest rates (now above 13 percent on Russian 10-years), but only at the cost of deepening the recession. Eichengreen et al (pdf), in a good discussion of all this in the Latin American context, give the example of Chile, which was hit very hard by falling copper prices at the end of the 1990s despite a much more favorable institutional setup than Russia right now — and, of course, without having de facto invaded a neighboring country.


By | 2014-12-16T22:04:28+00:00 December 16th, 2014|Civil Rights, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Mass Shooting, Pakistan|Comments Off on News Roundup: Taliban, Mandatory sentencing, Russian Economy

Wednesday Evening News Roundup

Wednesday Evening News Roundup

Wayne LaPierre

When the NRA announced that they were going to hold a press conference, I stated on the air that I believed there was nothing that the NRA (National Rifle Association) had to say that I was interested in. I could not imagine their saying anything that was thoughtful, intelligent or helpful about the situation. Unfortunately, I was right. It seems to me that Wayne LaPierre, with his same tired clichés, considers the American people stupid.

Let’s, just for a second, go with his suggestion that the way to fix the problem would be to have armed guards in elementary schools. Let’s, just for a moment, assume that we can get state, federal and local funding for armed guards in schools. Let’s also assume that we can figure out how many armed guards we need. I suspect that in small schools, we would only want to have one or two armed guards and that in bigger schools we’d like to have more. Now, let’s add to this mix a gunman. By all accounts, the gunman in Newtown shooting was intelligent. He may have been, and probably was, mentally disturbed, but he was intelligent. He knew that the school was on lockdown. He broke a window in order to get past the locked doors. Why would we assume that the gunman wouldn’t plan on taking out the arm guard first? Why would we assume that the gunman wouldn’t plan for the armed guard? The armed guard will not be Dirty Harry, Rambo or Jack Reacher. The armed guard is not gonna be an ex-Special Forces elite paratrooper. It’s going to be some guy. It’ll be some guy with modest training who will be surprised by the attack. Remember in Tucson, Arizona, when Representative Gabby Giffords was shot, there was someone in the crowd who was carrying a weapon but did not think he could get off a clear shot without hitting civilians. During the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, one of the first ones on the scene was a 20-year police veteran who got off multiple shots but did not hit the shooter once. For his troubles, he was shot multiple times and, thankfully, survived. Let’s go back to 1966 when Charles Whitman shot and killed 11 people, wounding over 30 others. Two police officers confronted Whitman on the observation deck of the University of Texas Tower. One officer, from a distance of approximately 50 feet, discharged his gun six times. He didn’t hit Whitman once.

Just because you have a gun, just because you’ve been trained, does not mean that in the moment of crisis you’re going to be able to use that weapon to stop an assailant. Wayne LaPierre isn’t simply crazy. He is a lobbyist. He wants you to buy something. He wants you to understand that guns are the only answer to violence. He wants you to be afraid. He wants you to buy a gun. By the way, don’t buy just one, because one is never enough. Buy several. (more…)


Sadness can’t describe my feelings.

From NYT:

Dr. Carver said that in the seven autopsies he himself had performed, the victims had from 3 to 11 wounds.

With the examinations complete and the families informed, the authorities released the names of those killed. Among the children, there were 12 girls killed and 8 boys. All of the children were in the first grade, officials said. Sixteen of the 20 were 6 years old; the rest were 7. One little girl had just turned 7 on Tuesday.

With the release of each name, the grim reality of Friday’s nightmare stung a little deeper.

The youngest child had just turned 6 years old in November, a little boy named Noah.

The oldest was 56, a school psychologist who was shot dead as she rushed to stop a 20-year-old gunman who had turned an elementary school into a killing grounds on Friday, killing 26 people before taking his own life.

By | 2012-12-15T21:07:26+00:00 December 15th, 2012|Mass Shooting|Comments Off on Newtown