Good on ya

Chechen Warlord Doku Umarov claimed responsibility in a letter for the Russian train explosion that killed 26 people between St. Petersburg and Moscow last weekend. Umarov, an Islamist extremist who calls himself “The Emir of the Caucasus,” is one of the most wanted men in Russia for his violent attacks against civilians and the government. Officials have claimed him dead twice — once this summer and once in 2005. Despite the confession, President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov has urged Russians to be cautious about the legitimacy of Umarov’s claim. “We must not exclude that by taking responsibility for this terrorist act, Umarov wants to raise his standing in the eyes of his foreign backers as he has recently been cornered by the joint efforts of the FSB and other federal departments, and his gang is suffering losses,” Kadyrov said, adding that perhaps Umarov and his supporters want to put the investigators on the wrong track.”

The Australian Senate defeated legislation that would have established the world’s first cap and trade system of greenhouse gas emissions. The Senate is more conservative than Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who will attend the Copenhagen climate change summit.

Atlanta, Georgia’s mayoral race is headed for a recount after official results from the runoff vote showed former state Senator Kasim Reed beating city councilwoman Mary Norwood by a hair. Norwood declined to concede defeat and will likely demand a recount under rules that permit it when less than 1 percent of votes cast separates the candidates. Norwood, who led an initial round of voting in November, would be Atlanta’s first white mayor since 1974.

The House Financial Services Committee voted to approve its “too big to fail” bank bill, aimed at reducing the risk that a financial firm’s collapse might imperil the entire financial system. The legislation proposes a system for dealing with, and, if necessary, breaking up troubled firms so taxpayer bailouts are not needed, but its most controversial part — headed for a House floor vote as soon as next week — is an amendment that would, for the first time, subject the Fed’s monetary policy to audits by a congressional watchdog. The clause is exactly what Fed Chief Bernanke hopes will be omitted, as it would limit the Fed’s independence. Meanwhile, European Union ministers agreed to set up super-watchdogs to police financial services, heralding a tougher regime for the industry blamed for triggering the economic crisis.

Bank of America, the U.S.’s largest lender, will repay $45 billion of government bailout funds in hopes to free itself from limits on executive pay that have hampered its search for a new leader.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) has tasked Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) with finding a way around the public option conundrum, solution to be unveiled next week. So far, Republicans and moderate Democrats have rejected a public option with an option for states to opt-out of the program, as well as one with a trigger (an option that will set the public option in motion if private health care programs prove ineffective after a predetermined amount of time). So far, Carper has been touting a health care “hammer” as a potential solution. The hammer version of the public option would be run by a non-governmental board, unable to use government money outside of its initial start-up funding. It would work alongside private insurers and kick in immediately if states were unable to provide effective health care through the private sector. Public option advocate Chuck Schumer (D-NY), as well as current health care holdout and moderate Mary Landrieu (D-LA) have also been tasked with revamping the public option.

Rupert Murdoch will get what he wished for. Yesterday, the media mogul spoke out against news aggregators like Google, calling them thieves for stealing articles from paid-for-content news sites. Today, Google announced that such sites will indeed be able to limit their searchable content. Murdoch should be happy, as his nascent purchase The Wall Street Journal charges users a fee to read certain articles. But Huffington Post Founder Arianna Huffington, who also spoke yesterday, told Murdoch to be careful what he wishes for.

“Any site can shut down the indexing of its content by Google any time it wants with a simple ‘disallow’ in its robots.txt file. But be careful what you wish for because as soon as you do that, and start denying your content to other sites that aggregate and link back to the original source, you stand to lose a large part of your traffic overnight. But as they say in Australia: ‘Good on ya.’ Of course as someone who cares deeply about the future of this country, I’d say that having Glenn Beck not searchable by Google is an entirely good thing. But a good business move? Not so much.”



  1. Love it. I feel informed.

    Links and links for you guys:
    9. Western conspiracy. Chocolate is universally addictive and desirable, so Western firms are depriving Chinese of chocolate for a reason, one correspondent suggested, I think in jest: “If we withhold chocolate long enough, they’re sure to forgive our debt.”

    The invasion of the underground beauty salon

    The Healthcare Reform Bill’s “Manager’s amendment”

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