Photo of the day

Love this collection in Behold of photos from Alex MacLean’s cockpit:

LS_5388_35B-52 Boneyard, Tucson, Ariz., 1993 (Alex MacLean)

Surely just a coincidence

Climate news via the Guardian:

13 of the 14 warmest years on record occurred this century, according to the UN.

Publishing its annual climate report, the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation said that last year continued a long-term warming trend, with the hottest year ever in Australia and floods, droughts and extreme weather elsewhere around the world.

Michel Jarraud, the WMO’s secretary-general, also said there had been no ‘pause’ in global warming, as has been alleged by climate change sceptics. “There is no standstill in global warming,” Jarraud said.

2001-2010 was the warmest decade on record, the WMO noted, and added that the last three decades had been warmer than the previous one.

The WMO reiterated its earlier finding that 2013 was the sixth warmest on record, with temperatures 0.5C above the long-term average (1961-1990). The southern hemisphere was particularly warm, its report said, with Argentina experiencing its second warmest year on record and New Zealand its third warmest.

I’m sure it’s all just a coincidence.  Or sunspots!  Nothing to worry about here.

How (gambling) policy really gets made

Loved this story about the policy fight over regulating on-line gambling as it is perfect for my Parties & Interest Groups class.  Why?  Because this policy is all about interest groups (and their money) battling each other rather than one would actually be good and sensible policy.  In my opinion, we should treat Americans like adults and gamble if they want to (with appropriate regulations, of course, which mostly involve transparency, fairness, etc.).  Regardless of libertarian reasons to allow on-line gambling, or revenue reasons (hey, we can tax it!), or heck moral reasons (gambling is bad for your soul!), what will ultimately decide things is the battle between rich casinos, which, surprise, surprise, want to limit competition versus the rich companies that own on-line gambling operations.  Nice story in the NYT:

A push by the casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson to outlaw online gambling has ignited a bitter civil war in the gambling industry, dividing one of Washington’s most powerful interest groups and posing a major test of the Republican megadonor’s political clout.

Mr. Adelson’s effort officially kicked off on Wednesday, when lawmakers, including a senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from the businessman and his family, introduced legislation originally drafted with Mr. Adelson’s lobbyist.

The bill would close a three-year-old loophole in federal law, banning online gambling — a growing industry that Mr. Adelson argues is bad for casinos and gamblers — and shutting down online gambling in a handful states that recently legalized it…

In this fight, dueling branches of the casino industry are now entering the fray, employing a half-dozen former elected officials and an a clutch of lobbyists and public relations strategists through a pair of strange-bedfellows coalitions.

A new group bankrolled by Mr. Adelson, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, is wooing socially conservative lawmakers opposed to gambling along with some Democrats who are worried about possible online gambling by minors. But it also features the former New York governor, George E. Pataki, who presided over a sweeping expansion of gambling in that state, including online bets on horse racing.

Rival casinos and online poker companies are counterattacking through theCoalition for Consumer and Online Protection. The group has signed up a former Republican congressman, Michael G. Oxley, who a decade ago led efforts to outlaw online betting and accused companies selling such games of “gobbling up victims in the United States,” and the former congresswoman Mary Bono. Mr. Oxley, who retired from Congress in 2007 and now works as a lobbyist, said in an interview that he believed state-regulated online gambling was now the best hope of countering the rapid expansion of illegal online gambling.

Basically politicians with  bricks and mortar gambling in their state are opposed because this threatens a home industry.  That’s that.  They’ll try and argue it with all sorts of other reasons, but that’s the reality.  I’ve never on-lined gambled and I never plan to, but I find it appalling to think that our policy may end up being largely determined by a billionaire who is afraid of earning a few less million a year and is spending freely to make it so.

%d bloggers like this: