"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

World News!

  • In "Ray Kurzweil must be proud" news, engineers and scientists at the University of Queensland have designed robots that are capable of inventing their own language and then teaching it to other robots.  It's crude right now, but it is one more step towards the godlike AIs predicted by Singularitarians.
  • Moody's Investors Service's chief credit officer for Europe - Alastair Wilson - expressed concerns about a Greek debt default.  "A Greek default would be highly destabilizing and would have implications for the creditworthiness of issuers across Europe.  This would result in more highly polarized credit worthiness and ratings among euro zone sovereigns, with the stronger countries retaining very high ratings and the weaker countries struggling to remain in investment grade."
  • At least two people were killed and 20 injured in an explosion at the Abadan refinery.  The explosion is believed to be caused by technical problems, and not by deliberate sabotage.
  • In non-PIIGS news, Lamborghini (a unit of Volkswagen's Audi brand) anticipates that the luxury super sports car market will return to 2007 levels by 2013-14.  They also plan to design a third car model.  "It has to be an everyday car," said Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann, "We want to have a car which is able to be used on a daily basis."  Lamborghini SUV, anyone?
  • In "no real surprise there" news, TEPCO has confirmed that fuel rods in the Fukushima Number 2 and Number 3 reactors have undergone a partial meltdown[1] (this after revealing earlier in the month that the rods in the Number 1 reactor melted down).  The meltdown had occurred within 60 hours of the earthquake in the Number 3 reactor, and within 100 hours after the earthquake for the Number 2 reactor.  They remain confident that the will be able to reach a cold shutdown of the Fukushima reactors by January.
North Korea
  • In "I got 99 problems but having to find a legal pretext for ongoing military operations ain't one" news, chief military prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky stated that a huge portion of Russia's defense spending is lost to corruption.  "Huge money is being stolen - practically every fifth ruble.."  When asked if he thought senior officials were involved in the corruption, Fridinsky said "Work it out for yourself."
United States
  • The White House is looking for ways to legally continue participating in the NATO-led Libyan campaign past Friday.  Under the War Powers Resolution, any involvement in combat operations that has not been authorized by Congress must be terminated after 60 days and, since Congress was formally informed of US involvement in Libya on March 21st, Friday will be the 60th day.
United Kingdom
[1]  This is known technically as a "partial core melt accident", and literally means that one or more fuel rods have gotten hot enough to liquefy and melt.  The reactor core - at least in non-Russian reactor designs - should be able to contain the majority of the radiation, but that theory is often dependent on operational cooling systems.

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