Thanks, Barry Ritholtz
❝ In 2014, Seattle passed an ordinance to eventually raise the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour, giving the Pacific Northwest city the highest pay floor in the U.S.
❝ The ink wasn’t even dry on the wage legislation when the dire warnings of economic collapse began. Unemployment would skyrocket, economic growth in the state would be hurt, restaurants and small businesses would close en masse. The deserved punishment would be swift and harsh.
But a funny thing happened on Seattle’s way to economic collapse: the city thrived. Restaurants didn’t close — they actually prospered — and new restaurant openings rose. Unemployment fell, most recently to less than 4 percent, more than a full percentage point lower than the national rate. By all accounts the city on the Puget Sound is booming.
❝ How did the doomsayers get it so wrong? As in so many other cases of politically motivated economic analysis, this was what the opponents hoped would happen because it fit with way they think world should work. But given what we know about Seattle…higher minimum wages can improve workers‘ living standards and stimulate the local economy.
Blame a fundamental misunderstanding of minimum-wage economics and, of course, good old-fashioned political bias. There have been repeated attempts to misread the data and conclude it has hurt employment, but so far none of this research has withstood scrutiny.
Trump doesn’t own the Big Lie. Republicans – whose party loyalty supersedes economic reality – cling to the tactic as tightly as, say, any scholarly limpet who still prattles about trickle-down benefits to the working class.
Thanks, Barry Ritholtz
Taking turns at the controls of Solar Impulse 2 – their zero-emission electric and solar airplane, capable of flying day and night without fuel – Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg succeeded in their crazy dream of achieving the first ever Round-The-World Solar Flight.
By landing back in Abu Dhabi after a total of 21 days of flight travelled in a 17-leg journey, Si2 has proven that clean technologies can achieve the impossible.
Beyond this historic milestone, the two Swiss pioneers will continue to urge the global implementation of energy efficient solutions through the creation of the International Committee for Clean Technologies and leverage the expertise and technology gained over the years in Solar Impulse by launching new innovative projects…
Bravo! Brave people with ideals for a clean future for the world.
❝Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket at its landing pad here Monday evening in its first flight since its rocket exploded six months ago.
The historic landing, the first time a rocket launched a payload into orbit and then returned safely to Earth, was cheered as a sign that SpaceX, the darling of the commercial space industry, has its momentum back…
❝Monday’s flight, initially delayed because of technical concerns, was the second time in a month that a billionaire-backed venture launched a rocket to space and recovered it. And it represents yet another significant step forward in the quest to open up the cosmos to the masses.
In a call with reporters, Musk said that it appeared the stage landed “dead center on the landing pad. … We could not have asked for a better mission.” He called it a “revolutionary moment.”
❝Typically, rocket boosters are used once, burning up or crashing into the ocean after liftoff. But Musk, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and Tesla, and Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com who has his own space company, have been working on creating reusable rockets that land vertically by using their engine thrust. If they are able to recover rockets and fly them again and again, it would dramatically lower the cost of space flight.
❝On Monday, SpaceX’s first flight since its Falcon 9 rocket blew up in June, Musk topped his fellow tech billionaire and space rival, by landing a larger, more powerful rocket designed to send payloads to orbit, and not just past the boundary of what’s considered space. It was a much more complicated feat that was celebrated as another leap forward for Musk and his merry band of rocketeers.
Catching up to Buck Rogers all the time.
The US SpaceX company has announced its intention to take a big slice of the market for launching the world’s TV and telecoms satellites.
The California outfit has just launched a new platform for satellite operator SES to serve its growing customer base in India and South East Asia…It is the first time SpaceX has put a satellite in a geostationary transfer orbit, far above the Earth.
The launch took place at Cape Canaveral in Florida…
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket got up off the pad at 17:41 local time (22:41 GMT) and released the SES-8 platform on its planned trajectory some 33 minutes later…
SpaceX is promising to substantially undercut the existing players on price, and SES, the world’s second largest telecoms satellite operator, believes the incumbents had better take note of the California company’s capability.
“The entry of SpaceX into the commercial market is a game-changer – it is going to really shake the industry to its roots,” SES’s chief technical officer Martin Halliwell told BBC News before the launch.
The flight from Cape Canaveral was the seventh mission to date for a Falcon 9.
The progression to longer flights, larger payloads, appears to be doing just fine. At this rate, I expect they’ll land a Tesla on the moon for Chinese astronauts to drive around in.
RTFA for lots more detail, background. I chose one of the longer videos – worth watching.
Lewis Hamilton wins first F1 race in U.S. since 2007
A bold passing maneuver at the end of a long straightway slipped Lewis Hamilton past Sebastian Vettel, and the McLaren driver went on to win the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday in the first Formula One race on American soil since 2007.
The drivers’ championship will be settled next week in Sao Paolo, Brazil, after Red Bull’s Vettel finished second and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso third.
“Wicked!” said Hamilton, who pumped his fists, waved to the crowd and danced a jig on the nose of his car after his fourth win of the season. “This is one of the best, if not the best Grand Prix, we’ve had all year.”
Vettel started the race in the pole position and led the first 41 laps before Hamilton caught him, sneaking past Vettel just before they reached the tight corner on turn No. 12 at the Circuit of the Americas. Hamilton started in the No. 2 position and pushed Vettel at every opportunity.
“It was a close fight with Lewis. He had one chance and took it. There wasn’t much between us,” Vettel said.
Vettel, the defending two-time Formula One champion, remains slightly ahead of Ferrari’s Alonso in the drivers’ championship, meaning the title will come down to the final race of the season.
Hamilton, who won the last U.S. Grand Prix, talked all week about how much he loves the United States and how badly he wanted to win in his return.
With the stars and stripes of the American flag painted on top of his helmet, Hamilton pulled off the daring move of the race with his pass. Vettel had been dominant in practice and qualifying on the new $400 million track that none of the teams had driven before this week, but couldn’t hold off the former world champion Sunday.
Kudos to Lewis Hamilton and McLaren – and special cheers for Austin, Texas which did a fabulous job not only with the technical side of the race – they made lots of friends for the world’s number one motorsport and the city of Austin with their friendliness, helpful attitude.
I watched the race on SpeedTV and just about every spectator and journalist interviewed couldn’t say enough about how well they were treated.
China launched its most ambitious space mission yet on Saturday, carrying its first female astronaut and two male colleagues in an attempt to dock with an orbiting module and work on board for more than a week.
The Shenzhou 9 capsule lifted off as scheduled at 6:37 p.m. (1037 GMT) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert. All systems functioned normally and, just over 10 minutes later, it opened its solar panels and entered orbit…
Female astronaut Liu Yang, 33, and two male crew members – mission commander and veteran astronaut Jing Haipeng, 45, and newcomer Liu Wang, 43 – are to dock the spacecraft with a prototype space lab launched last year in a key step toward building a permanent space station. All three are experienced pilots and officers in the Chinese air force…
China is hoping to join the United States and Russia as the only countries to send independently maintained space stations into orbit. It is already one of just three nations to have launched manned spacecraft on their own.
Another manned mission to the module is planned later this year, while possible future missions could include sending a man to the moon.
The space program is a source of enormous national pride for China, reflecting its rapid economic and technological progress and ambition to rank among the world’s leading nations. The selection of the first female astronaut is giving the program an additional publicity boost…
The astronauts are expected to reach the module, called Tiangong 1, on Monday. Now orbiting at 343 kilometers above Earth, the module is only a prototype, and plans call for it to be replaced by a larger permanent space station due for completion around 2020…
China has only limited cooperation in space with other nations and its exclusion from the ISS, largely on objections from the United States, was one of the key spurs for it to pursue an independent space program 20 years ago.
At the current rate of progress in the United States, I imagine China will share the sale of tickets to the Moon and Mars with Space-X to members of Congress who care to visit in the next 50 years. Our politicians really deserve “credit” for the results of their Cold war mentality.
Thekla Walker elected new co-leader of the Greens in Baden-Wuerttemberg
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
The Greens have grown out of their woolly jumpers and sandals and turned enough fellow Germans on to environmentalism to make the party — already the world’s most successful green movement — the possible kingmakers in the 2013 elections.
Founded three decades ago by rebels from the 1968 student movement, ‘ban-the-bomb’ peaceniks, ecologists and feminists, the Greens got their first taste of power from 1998 to 2005 under Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats (SPD).
But they have come into their own in the past year. A strong run of local elections gave them a presence in all 16 regional assemblies for the first time as well as their first state premier, Winfried Kretschmann, who ousted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in conservative Baden-Wuerttemberg…
“We have shown that economics and ecology don’t contradict each other — which is a quantitative leap forward,” said party co-leader Claudia Roth in an interview…
The party has climbed to historic highs in opinion polls in the past year of 15-20 percent, from 10.7 percent in the last elections in 2009.
It has now surpassed the current junior coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), to become the third force in a system that has been dominated by the conservatives, now at around 32 percent, and the SPD, who poll as much as 30 percent…
As conservative German voters’ old animosity to the environmentalists fades, “well-educated, higher-income people — the upper-middle class — are moving toward the Greens and forgetting the old ideological barriers between them,” said politics professor Gero Neugebauer at Berlin’s Free University.
Now renewable energy is creating more jobs than traditional industry in parts of former East Germany, the financial crisis has turned once radical Green ideas like financial transactions taxes mainstream, and the Greens side with the once-demonized International Monetary Fund in some areas of financial policy.
RTFA. Lots of detail, anecdotal information.
The German Greens could give lessons to the middle-class radicals in the United States who occasionally play Lets Pretend to be a Political Party.
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
India has “never been closer” to wiping out polio, India’s health minister has declared as he marked World Polio Day.
There have been no new cases for more than nine months, making it the longest polio-free period since the global eradication campaign was launched. The only case reported this year was in the state of West Bengal in January. There were 39 cases reported over a similar period in 2010.
India is one of only four countries in the world where polio is still endemic. The virus is also prevalent in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
The overall trend in India is so positive that its vaccination programme is being discussed as one other countries might learn from.
Pakistan is a particular concern. It has seen 118 new cases so far this year concentrated in poor, insecure areas: Karachi, Baluchistan and the tribal areas close to the border with Afghanistan.
The two countries routinely re-infect each other. Afghanistan has seen 40 new cases this year. The continuing violence there also makes it hard to reach vulnerable children. Nigeria too has seen a surge in cases this year which have undermined recent gains…
Some communities simply do not trust the people who administer the vaccine and fear it could hurt their children… But they trust their priests.
The health ministry reported that no cases were reported from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh for 18 months…
Uttar Pradesh has been one of the worst-affected regions in the world’s fight against polio with hundreds of cases reported until a few years ago. Of the 549 polio cases in India in 2008, 297 were in Uttar Pradesh.
It is especially heartwarming for a grayhead like me to witness this victory. I grew up in a time when polio threatened all societies. Beaches and pools were often closed in summer because of the threat of contagion. All of us knew someone in every neighborhood who died or was left paralyzed by the disease.
I experienced each stage of vaccine development from early days of the first vaccinations, needle sticks and terrified children as kids always are over needles – on through to oral vaccines. The relief experienced by my parents, all parents in the factory town I grew up in. The minority of superstitious nutballs who kept their kids from safety were looked at as fools who fortunately only constituted a danger to themselves – and unfortunately to their own children.
Vaccinating children aged two to four years against seasonal influenza resulted in a 34% decline in flu-like illnesses, found a study in Canadian Medical Association Journal. Preschool-aged children have influenza infection rates of 25%-43%, higher than other age groups. Vaccinating healthy children can help prevent spread of infection in the home and the community.
In 2006 through 2007, the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices expanded its recommendations to give the seasonal flu vaccine to children beyond the current target group of 6 months to 23 months of age. However, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization did not, allowing a comparison of vaccination practices between the two countries.
Researchers from the Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and McGill University and the Montreal Public Health Department in Montréal, Quebec evaluated the impact of the expanded US policy on influenza-related visits to the emergency department at the Children’s Hospital Boston compared with Montreal Children’s Hospital. They looked at visits to the emergency department in 2000/2001 through 2008/2009 at the two hospitals…
…The researchers analyzed the visits associated with flu-like illnesses and found that “both hospitals had strong seasonal fluctuations in visits related to influenza-like illness in younger age groups, with more subtle seasonal patterns in older pediatric age groups and similar seasonal epidemic increases, declines and peak timing of the epidemic curve,” write Drs. John Brownstein and Anne Hoen, Children’s Hospital Boston, with coauthors.
“Following the policy change in the United States, we observed a decline in the rate of emergency department visits for influenza-like illness at Children’s Hospital Boston relative to the Montreal Children’s Hospital in the target age group, children two to four years old,” they state.
They also saw declines of 11%-18% in other nontarget age groups (ages 0-1 year, 2-4 years, 5-9 years and 10-18 years), which may be related to an overall reduction of influenza in transmission at home and in the community because of vaccination of two to four year olds…
“…Our findings provide evidence that, in our US study community (i.e., Boston), the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to routinely vaccinate preschool-aged children against seasonal influenza is improving pediatric influenza-related outcomes,” conclude the authors.
Not only seems reasonable; but, overdue. I have no idea why it’s taken either nation so long to get round to this level of vaccnation – but, I’m glad they finally did.
After all, half my North American kinfolk live in the GWN. 🙂