From various reports I had already figured that Egypt and Israel had some secret understanding regarding Isreal’s planned attack on Hamas. I knew that the Egyptian government was furious with Hamas. But I never expected to see the above expressed on Egyptian prime time television in Arabic by Egypt’s Foreign Minister. Regardless of what Arab leaders think in private, they are not supposed to say things like this in public.

Granted, the clip is short and I am sure if I had a full transcript of what he said I would find that he made some kind of pro forma denouncements of Israel. Still, I admire his forthrightness.

However, if I was a life insurance company I would deny him coverage. There is a reason why he went on television to say this and not Mubarak.

They really were on Crack

From Naked Capitalism…..

As I am sure readers know all too well, that sort of thing is quietly prevalent in investment banks (well, except for being so indiscreet as to have your implements on view), as coke-snorting traders and institutional salesmen were sufficiently common in the 1980s so as to become a staple of fiction and magazine articles. Even in the seemingly innocent early 1980s, a member of Goldman’s corporate finance department was known to use uppers and downers on what was presumed to be a daily basis. He made partner. A attorney buddy realized how naive he was when on a deal, with all too great frequency, the room where negotiations were being held would empty itself. It took him a couple of days to figure out everyone else wasn’t making urgent phone calls, but repairing to bathrooms, and not to have sex with each other, either. I’ve also been told of very high level IT guys (the kind who built and ran mission critical systems, and made seven figures in the peak years) having meth habits. (Based on my very very limited anecdotal sample, meth does appear to live up to its billing and leads to much more rapid personal train wrecks than other stimulants).

And this is the world from which our current Treasury Sectary comes from.

Changing The Rules

From the Telegraph….

That threshold was lowered considerably by yesterday’s operation when, for the first time, Israel targeted groups of Hamas soldiers and policemen not involved in active operations.

Membership alone of the security structures of Hamas was yesterday turned by Israel into grounds for attack. To put on a Hamas police baseball cap is to make oneself a target.

This means that any Hamas traffic cop on a street corner in Gaza – or manning a makeshift ‘border’ checkpoint – can expect to be attacked.

From later on in the article…

Throughout this period, Hamas planners assumed their security forces were safe from Israeli strikes, as long as they were not directly involved in running or ordering an attack. All of that changed with yesterday’s raids. Somehow, I no longer expect to see uniformed Hamas officers guiding traffic at Gaza’s junctions.

Kind of amazing that Hamas could shoot at Israel and assume that only the people involved in the shooting were in danger huh?

The Belmont Club has more.

What defines allowable capacity?

From the New York Times….

Authority officials initially said that about 1.7 million cubic yards of wet coal ash had spilled when the earthen retaining wall of an ash pond breached, but on Thursday they released the results of an aerial survey that showed the actual amount was 5.4 million cubic yards, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep. The amount now said to have been spilled is larger than the amount the Authority initially said was in the pond, 2.6 million cubic yards.

Authority officials offered little explanation for the discrepancy, telling reporters that the initial number was an estimate based on their information at the time. The aerial survey was done on Tuesday, but the results were not released until Thursday. Calls to an Authority spokesman on Friday morning were not immediately returned.

Residents were stunned by the new numbers. “That’s scary to know that they can be off by that much,” said Angela Spurgeon, whose yard is swamped with ash. “I don’t think it was intentional, but it upsets me to know that a number was given of what the pond could hold, and the number now is more than double of what the pond actually held.”

Gilbert Francis Jr., a spokesman for the Authority, said Wednesday that the pond had not exceeded its allowable capacity.

Look, the dam burst. That is a fact.

Thus, it seems that the pond had exceeded the its allowable capacity according to the laws of physics. Now maybe there is a piece of paper somewhere that says that the dam could hold more. But if so, that piece of paper was wrong.

Given that their are lots more of these dams all around the pressing question is why was that piece of paper wrong?

In this case though, I suspect that someone is lying. The clip below seems to suggest that they knew there where problems with the dam.

Unanticipated Problems From Environmental Regulations

From Enertech Labs…..

The Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD (S-15)) that we started to receive in mid 2006 has shown some dramatically different cold weather characteristics from the earlier High Sulfur (HSD (S-5000)) and Low Sulfur Fuels (LSD (S-500)).

These new characteristics including higher temperature gelling, wax dropout, icing, and difficulty in treating have in the first year and will continue into the foreseeable future to provide some significant challenges to distributors and end users during cold weather.

Due to these new characteristics users in areas of the US where they have not seen cold weather problems in the past, are now and will continue to see serious issues with gelling, wax dropout, and icing.

This is not the end of the world. But I have heard of reports of this causing problems for school buses and the like. Mostly out in western states.


The Daily Beast……

Here’s the really bad news: the full impact of the financial crisis in New York has yet to be felt.

The dirty secret of Empire State budgeting is that New York City depends disproportionately on Wall Street for its budget and New York State depends on New York City.

In the last four months, the financial landscape has changed dramatically. Investment banks that have been the engine of the city’s tax revenue for decades have disappeared entirely or morphed into restricted new entities. According to E.J. McMahon, my colleague at the Manhattan Institute, between 1980 and 2007 the securities industry’s share of wages in the state rocketed from 3 percent to 18 percent, with the average Wall Street salary and bonus rising to $379,000. Wall Street revenues made up 20 percent of the state’s budget. So the 40,000 local jobs lost in the financial sector are only the beginning. We’re not facing a cyclical downturn; we’re facing a fundamental alteration of the facts of financial life in New York. And the 20 percent unemployment in some upstate counties will not help ease the squeeze.

This author puts most of the blame on the Public Unions. And to be sure, they deserve their share of the blame. But a large part of New York’s problems are demographic. New York has a rapidly aging population upstate. Few young people stick around. This problem was always going to kill the state regardless of public pensions. They just make the problem worse.