Posts Tagged ‘NY Times’

A Remote Island Seeks a Boom Without a Bust (NY Times)

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

christmasislandmap

[Editor's note: One of the more enjoyable aspects of working on Natural Earth was finding out about the far flung territories of countries. Australia's Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean near Indonesia is featured in this dispatch from the New York Times.]

Republished from the New York Times.
By NORIMITSU ONISHI. Christmas Island Journal. November 26, 2009

CHRISTMAS ISLAND, Australia — “The good times are back on Christmas Island,” said Trish O’Donnell, this island’s sole real estate agent. “Three-quarters of Australians probably didn’t know Christmas Island belonged to Australia, but now it’s a speculators’ market. All thanks to the I.D.C.”

That’s short for the Immigration Detention Center, a $370 million facility the Australian government opened less than a year ago to house the increasing number of asylum-seekers coming by boat to Australia. Tucked away in the jungle, at the other end of this island’s one inhabited corner, the center nevertheless has brought the whiff of quick, new money here.

The math was simple enough. Since the start of the year, the number of asylum-seekers has grown steadily, so that it now tops the population of local residents, around 1,100.

As immigration officials, guards, interpreters and others now fly in from mainland Australia for stretches of days or weeks, the island’s limited facilities are enjoying a boom. Hotels are booked weeks in advance. Rents have doubled. Lucky Ho’s and a handful of other restaurants turn away patrons without reservations.

Like many other islanders, Ms. O’Donnell, 53, was out to get her share of the new detention money, in her case by opening the Barracks, a restaurant and inn. “When do we get the opportunity to make good money on Christmas Island?” she said. “We usually just sell to each other.”

If there was urgency in her tone, it was because of the knowledge that busts have usually followed booms on Christmas Island.

Continue reading at New York Times . . .

The Last Minutes of Flight 3407 (NY Times)

Monday, February 16th, 2009

[Editor's note: The New York Times has a good panel-based interactive following the descent and ultimate crash of Flight 3407 before it crashed on landing approach into the Buffalo Niagara International Airport last week. A touch of animation between each time slice adds a nice flourish. Steadily increasing map detail and  finally a photo realistic shot of the neighborhood reinforce the scale change and make the lack of scale bars less glaring.]

Republished from the New York Times.
Originally published: February 13, 2009.
Graphic by Xaquín G.V., Ford Fessenden, Joe Burgess, Graham Roberts

Screenshots below. View interactive version to see the transitions between each panel.

Sources: Pictometry, LiveATC.net, FlightAware, FlightView, Bombardier

Figuring Autoworkers’ Pay (NY Times)

Monday, December 15th, 2008

[Editor’s note: This graphic from the New York Times shows how the crux of the auto bailout is not a labor pricing issue but a core a supply and demand issue. The labor costs of a new car is only 10% of the price of a car and any remaining “labor” cost difference after recent union concessions is due, like any large company, to supporting prior retirees, a cost that newer companies have yet to experience (Diane Rehm Show, 15 Dec 2008). If the Big Three could make cars that were smart, efficient, reliable, and had resale value, now that’s the ticket. Besides, it’s not like the Heritage cadre were crying foul over big financial firm bailouts when those white collar workers certainly make more than the average American worker. Thanks Laris!]

Republished from the New York Times. By DAVID LEONHARDT. Published: December 9, 2008

Economic Scene
$73 an Hour: Adding It Up

That figure — repeated on television and in newspapers as the average pay of a Big Three autoworker — has become a big symbol in the fight over what should happen to Detroit. To critics, it is a neat encapsulation of everything that’s wrong with bloated car companies and their entitled workers.

To the Big Three’s defenders, meanwhile, the number has become proof positive that autoworkers are being unfairly blamed for Detroit’s decline. “We’ve heard this garbage about 73 bucks an hour,” Senator Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said last week. “It’s a total lie. I think some people have perpetrated that deliberately, in a calculated way, to mislead the American people about what we’re doing here.”

So what is the reality behind the number? Detroit’s defenders are right that the number is basically wrong. Big Three workers aren’t making anything close to $73 an hour (which would translate to about $150,000 a year).

But the defenders are not right to suggest, as many have, that Detroit has solved its wage problem. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler workers make significantly more than their counterparts at Toyota, Honda and Nissan plants in this country. Last year’s concessions by the United Automobile Workers, which mostly apply to new workers, will not change that anytime soon.

And yet the main problem facing Detroit, overwhelmingly, is not the pay gap. That’s unfortunate because fixing the pay gap would be fairly straightforward.

The real problem is that many people don’t want to buy the cars that Detroit makes. Fixing this problem won’t be nearly so easy.

The success of any bailout is probably going to come down to Washington’s willingness to acknowledge as much.

Let’s start with the numbers. The $73-an-hour figure comes from the car companies themselves. As part of their public relations strategy during labor negotiations, the companies put out various charts and reports explaining what they paid their workers. Wall Street analysts have done similar calculations.

The calculations show, accurately enough, that for every hour a unionized worker puts in, one of the Big Three really does spend about $73 on compensation. So the number isn’t made up. But it is the combination of three very different categories.

The first category is simply cash payments, which is what many people imagine when they hear the word “compensation.” It includes wages, overtime and vacation pay, and comes to about $40 an hour. (The numbers vary a bit by company and year. That’s why $73 is sometimes $70 or $77.)

The second category is fringe benefits, like health insurance and pensions. These benefits have real value, even if they don’t show up on a weekly paycheck. At the Big Three, the benefits amount to $15 an hour or so.

Add the two together, and you get the true hourly compensation of Detroit’s unionized work force: roughly $55 an hour. It’s a little more than twice as much as the typical American worker makes, benefits included. The more relevant comparison, though, is probably to Honda’s or Toyota’s (nonunionized) workers. They make in the neighborhood of $45 an hour, and most of the gap stems from their less generous benefits.

The third category is the cost of benefits for retirees. These are essentially fixed costs that have no relation to how many vehicles the companies make. But they are a real cost, so the companies add them into the mix — dividing those costs by the total hours of the current work force, to get a figure of $15 or so — and end up at roughly $70 an hour.

The crucial point, though, is this $15 isn’t mainly a reflection of how generous the retiree benefits are. It’s a reflection of how many retirees there are. The Big Three built up a huge pool of retirees long before Honda and Toyota opened plants in this country. You’d never know this by looking at the graphic behind Wolf Blitzer on CNN last week, contrasting the “$73/hour” pay of Detroit’s workers with the “up to $48/hour” pay of workers at the Japanese companies.

These retirees make up arguably Detroit’s best case for a bailout. The Big Three and the U.A.W. had the bad luck of helping to create the middle class in a country where individual companies — as opposed to all of society — must shoulder much of the burden of paying for retirement.

So here’s a little experiment. Imagine that a Congressional bailout effectively pays for $10 an hour of the retiree benefits. That’s roughly the gap between the Big Three’s retiree costs and those of the Japanese-owned plants in this country. Imagine, also, that the U.A.W. agrees to reduce pay and benefits for current workers to $45 an hour — the same as at Honda and Toyota.

Do you know how much that would reduce the cost of producing a Big Three vehicle? Only about $800.

That’s because labor costs, for all the attention they have been receiving, make up only about 10 percent of the cost of making a vehicle. An extra $800 per vehicle would certainly help Detroit, but the Big Three already often sell their cars for about $2,500 less than equivalent cars from Japanese companies, analysts at the International Motor Vehicle Program say. Even so, many Americans no longer want to own the cars being made by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

My own family’s story isn’t especially unusual. For decades, my grandparents bought American and only American. In their apartment, they still have a framed photo of the 1933 Oldsmobile that my grandfather’s family drove when he was a teenager. In the photo, his father stands proudly on the car’s running board.

By the 1970s, though, my grandfather became so sick of the problems with his American cars that he vowed never to buy another one. He hasn’t.

Detroit’s defenders, from top executives on down, insist that they have finally learned their lesson. They say a comeback is just around the corner. But they said the same thing at the start of this decade — and the start of the last one and the one before that. All the while, their market share has kept on falling.

There is good reason to keep G.M. and Chrysler from collapsing in 2009. (Ford is in slightly better shape.) The economy is in the worst recession in a generation. You can think of the Detroit bailout as a relatively cost-effective form of stimulus. It’s often cheaper to keep workers in their jobs than to create new jobs.

But Congress and the Obama administration shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking that they can preserve the Big Three in anything like their current form. Very soon, they need to shrink to a size that reflects the American public’s collective judgment about the quality of their products.

It’s a sad story, in many ways. But it can’t really be undone at this point. If we had wanted to preserve the Big Three, we would have bought more of their cars.

It Ain’t Easy To Get A Newspaper To Provide Useful Data (TechDirt)

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

[Editor's note: Interesting take on getting old media to get data friendly and generous: seeing the "value of data in addition to straight reporting, and the concept of openness compared to being a gatekeeper." Thanks Katharine!]

Republished from TechDirt. From the not-their-thing dept.

We’ve discussed in the past the idea that newspapers today need to get beyond reporting the news and also move towards opening up their data such that others can make that data useful. Newspapers have access to all sorts of interesting and useful data — but traditionally, they’ve hoarded it and only used it as a resource for editors and reporters in creating stories. However, by opening up that data to others, it could make those news organizations much more valuable. We’re seeing some movement in that direction, and recently noted that the NY Times had come out with an API for the campaign finance data it had. 

However, one thing that seems clear is that very few newspapers have the resources necessary to do this on a regular basis. The NY Times (and, to some extent, the Washington Post) seems to be willing to invest in this area, but for many newspapers, the entire concept seems foreign. Writing for OJR, Eric Ulken from the LA Times discusses how much effort it took to get the necessary resources just to build a homicide map to go along with a blogthat planned to chronicle every homicide in the LA area. If Ulken’s experience is any indication, it seems pretty clear that very, very few traditional news organizations are going to be able to pull this off. They’re just not set up to do such things. 

It seems increasingly clear that these types of innovations are more likely to come from newer news organizations who actually recognize the value of data in addition to straight reporting, and the concept of openness compared to being a gatekeeper.

The Debt Trap (NY Times)

Monday, September 29th, 2008

The New York Times has a great collection of interactive graphics and other multimedia and articles explaining the background of the financial crisis. This package was put together before this last fortnight’s market tourmoil, but still a good read.

Topics include:

Home Equity Loans

Rise of Credit Spreads Worldwide Outside US

Debt Hitting Home Across Classes and Ages

Calculator to Determine Your Personal Debt Load and How it Compares with Average

View the Debt Trap at nytimes.com . . .

The Vanishing Republican Voter (NY Times)

Monday, September 8th, 2008
[Editor’s note: Following the general election? This NY Times Magazine article by David Frum, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of “Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again”, is an informative read with a geographical focus. Thanks Jo!]

[Related content: I published two maps (here and here) in the Washington Post last year showing voter trends and election results in Northern Virginia where the author, David Frum, takes examples. One of the maps uses a hybrid choropleth and point symbolization to solve the problem of small but dense and large but sparse enumeration units found in maps with both urban and rural areas. This technique helps prevent geography from overpowering overall trends in the data.]

I LIVE IN WASHINGTON, in a neighborhood that is home to lawyers, political consultants, television personalities and the chief executive of the TIAA-CREF pension fund. Not exactly an abode of the superrich, but the kind of neighborhood where almost nobody does her own yardwork or vacuums his own floor. Children’s birthday parties feature rented moon bounces or hired magicians. The local grocery stores offer elegant precooked dinners of salmon, duck and artichoke ravioli.
  

Sophia Martineck

Four miles to the southeast there stretches a different Washington. More than one-third of the people live in poverty. Close to half the young children are overweight. Fewer than half the adults work. The rate of violent crime is more than 10 times that of the leafy streets of my neighborhood.

Measured by money income, Washington qualifies as one the most unequal cities in the United States. Yet these two very different halves of a single city do share at least one thing. They vote the same way: Democratic. And in this, we are not alone. As a general rule, the more unequal a place is, the more Democratic; the more equal, the more Republican. The gap between rich and poor in Washington is nearly twice as great as in strongly Republican Charlotte, N.C.; and more than twice as great as in Republican-leaning Phoenix, Fort Worth, Indianapolis and Anaheim.

My fellow conservatives and Republicans have tended not to worry very much about the widening of income inequalities. As long as there exists equality of opportunity — as long as everybody’s income is rising — who cares if some people get rich faster than others? Societies that try too hard to enforce equality deny important freedoms and inhibit wealth-creating enterprise. Individuals who worry overmuch about inequality can succumb to life-distorting envy and resentment.

All true! But something else is true, too: As America becomes more unequal, it also becomes less Republican. The trends we have dismissed are ending by devouring us.

THE TREND TO INEQUALITY is not new, and it is not confined to the United States. It has manifested itself just about everywhere in the developed world since the late 1970s, and for the same two reasons.

The first reason is the revolution in family life. Not so long ago, most households were home to two adults, one who worked and one who did not. Today fewer than half of America’s households are headed by married couples, and married women usually work. So America and other advanced countries have become increasingly divided between families earning two incomes and those getting by on one at most.

The family revolution coincided with another: a great shift from a national to a planetary division of labor. Inequality within nations is rising in large part because inequality is declining among nations. A generation ago, even a poor American was still better off than most people in China. Today the lifestyles of middle-class Chinese increasingly approximate those of middle-class Americans, while the lifestyles of upper and lower America increasingly diverge. Less-skilled Americans now face hundreds of millions of new wage competitors, while highly skilled Americans can sell their services in a worldwide market.

As long as all Americans were becoming better off, few cared that some Americans were becoming better off than others. But since 2000, something has changed. Incomes at the middle have ceased to rise. The mood of the country has soured. Conservatives who disregard the mood of unease may forfeit their power to defend the more open and productive American economy they did so much to build.

STEP ACROSS THE COUNTY line between Washington and suburban Fairfax County, Va., and you see the forfeiting process at work.

A third of a century ago, Fairfax had only recently evolved from farm country to bedroom community. Some rich families clustered in the village of McLean, where Robert Kennedy had his Hickory Hill estate. Otherwise, Fairfax housed middle-class families looking for inexpensive housing and excellent schools. These middle-class families voted Republican, leading the Old Dominion’s political transition away from its reactionary segregationist past to a modern business-oriented conservatism.

Continue reading at NY Times . . .

Geography Is For Real: Oil Costs Up (Sundry)

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Omnibus of a weeks’ newspaper coverage (reprints):

Are Oil Costs Creating a ‘Made Here’ Movement?
NY Times’ Andrew C. Revkin on August 2, 2008

Referencing:
Shipping Costs Start to Crimp Globalization
NY Times’ Larry Rohter on August 3, 2008

Larry Rohter, who recently returned to the United States after many years covering Brazil, has a fascinating story in the Sunday paper examining how high oil prices may be blunting the globalization of manufacturing. Concerns over carbon dioxide emissions may be playing a role, as well. He starts out with an anecdote about Tesla Motors, which planned to build its batteries in Thailand, assemble most of the components of its electric sports cars in Britain, and then sell them in the United States.

But high shipping costs have changed that company’s plans, and those of many others, Larry writes. Here’s the “nut graf”:

Cheap oil, the lubricant of quick, inexpensive transportation links across the world, may not return anytime soon, upsetting the logic of diffuse global supply chains that treat geography as a footnote in the pursuit of lower wages. Rising concern about global warming, the reaction against lost jobs in rich countries, worries about food safety and security, and the collapse of world trade talks in Geneva last week also signal that political and environmental concerns may make the calculus of globalization far more complex.

Maybe the world is not as flat, or small, as it once seemed. The breakdown of trade talks also implies more countries are thinking local. I’m not sure this bodes well for the global thinking, and interaction, that’d have to take place if the world were to get serious about curbing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. What’s your take?

Continue reading at New York Times . . . 

The 21 Stages of the Tour de France (NY Times)

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

[Editor’s note: We’re half way thru the Tour de France bicycle race. Catch up the latest news with this New York Times interactive that aggregates Times stories and multimedia about the event by stage (day).Thanks Curt!]

The 95th Tour de France features 180 riders racing 2,212 miles over 23 days. It is a grueling test of endurance and strategy that includes nine mountain stages, two time trials and, undoubtedly, numerous surprises.

Follow the New York Times’s coverage of the race on this map, updated during the Tour with articles, photos and multimedia by clicking on the icons below.

View original interactive here.


ny times tour de france 2008

Interactive by: Jeffrey Marcus, Justin Sablich, Baden Copeland, Jon Huang, Tom Jackson/The New York Times

All of Inflation’s Little Parts (NY Times)

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

This interactive from last month hasn’t aged at all.
From the New York Time’s Matthew Bloch, Shan Carter and Amanda Cox.
Clipped version above. View the full-size version here.

From the NY Times:

Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics gathers 84,000 prices in about 200 categories — like gasoline, bananas, dresses and garbage collection — to form the Consumer Price Index, one measure of inflation.

It’s among the statistics that the Federal Reserve considered when it cut interest rates on Wednesday. The categories are weighted according to an estimate of what the average American spends, as shown below.

An Average Consumer’s Spending

Each shape below represents how much the average American spends in different categories.
Larger shapes make up a larger part of spending.

View the interactive at NY Times.com . . .

Where They Won (NY Times)

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

The Times featured this visual confection on their home page momentarily in the final throws of the primary last week. The map shows the 50 states and their 3,000+ counties in a small time series animation with a DNA sequence timeline above with darker bar indicating primary and/or caucus dates. The number of delegates for Obama and Clinton tallies automatically and the time slider can be scrubbed back and forth.