News & blog roundup, September 23 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Humane Society Legislative Fund endorses Obama-Biden, the first time it has ever endorsed a presidential candidate.

Here are a few links that either don't warrant their own post or that I don't know enough about to comment upon but still warrant a mention.
Paton said that the greenhouse produces more than five times the fresh water needed to water the plants inside so, in addition to producing water to clean the CSP mirrors, some of it can be released into the local environment. This can create a local microclimate just outside the greenhouses for hardier plants such as jatropha, an energy crop that can be turned into biofuel. The ability to create similar microclimates has already been proven in the demonstration greenhouses Paton has built.
  • Venus Express data finally made public - Good news because ESA has never been as open with its data as NASA nor as timely with its press releases, and a lot of people including myself weren't too happy with the lack of press releases from the mission. Releasing data to the public is always a good idea because you never know when some amateur enthusiast will notice something or draw a conclusion that hasn't been considered before.
  • Terry McAuliffe in Virginia:

This video probably won't receive that much attention but I like how McAuliffe (formerly from the Hillary Clinton campaign) is able to make so many concise points in such a short time. I'd never seen a video of him before and he's a surprisingly effective campaigner from what I can tell.
When the Japanese asset bubble burst in the early 1990s, Japanese banks retreated to their own shores to lick their wounds. But the caution fed by that trauma meant they were hurt less by the U.S. subprime credit crisis than many U.S. and global lenders because they were less exposed.

As a result, they are flush with cash at the very time that U.S. financial institutions are desperate for investment.

The planned investment by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, or MUFG, in Morgan Stanley is the boldest move so far to take advantage of that opportunity.

MUFG said Monday it will spend up to $8.4-billion (U.S.) to acquire between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of Morgan Stanley, one of just two U.S. investment banks left standing by the Wall Street meltdown. With deposits of $1.1-trillion, MUFG is Japan's largest bank, one of three “mega-banks” left over from a shakeout in the banking industry.

On the same day, Japan's largest stock-broking firm, Nomura Holdings Inc., agreed to pay $225-million for the Asian remnants of Lehman Brothers, the collapsed U.S. investment house.

“It's not every year you can get 20 per cent of one of the biggest names on Wall Street,” said Kenneth Courtis, former vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia, from Hong Kong.
  • Young and Arab in Land of Mosques and Bars - a fairly detailed piece from the New York Times on how moving to the United Arab Emirates and working there changes people from other (usually poorer) Arab or Muslim countries. The most interesting part for me:
In fact, the mix of nationalities has made Mr. Galal redefine himself — not predominantly as Muslim but as Egyptian. Asked if he feels more comfortable with a Pakistani who is Muslim or an Egyptian who is Christian, he replied automatically: “The Egyptian.”
But Democrats, it turns out, are much better for the stock market than Republicans. Slate ran the numbers and found that since 1900, Democratic presidents have produced a 12.3 percent annual total return on the S&P 500, but Republicans only an 8 percent return. In 2000, the Stock Trader's Almanac, which slices and dices Wall Street performance figures like baseball stats, came up with nearly the same numbers (13.4 percent versus 8.1 percent) by measuring Dow price appreciation. (Most of the 20th century's bear markets, incidentally, have been Republican bear markets: the Crash of '29, the early '70s oil shock, the '87 correction, and the current stall occurred under GOP presidents.)


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