The Lookout
  • The five most influential voices on the economy

    Paul RyanWith the economy still sluggish and unemployment sky high, 2010 has been marked by fierce debates over the stimulus efforts, taxes, spending, jobless benefits and the deficit. Here's a look at five of the most influential participants in those debates :

    1. Paul Ryan -- A Republican congressman from Wisconsin and a former economist, Ryan has provided an intellectual framework for the GOP's tax-cutting, small government agenda. And for better or worse, he's helped get the once-toxic idea of cutting Social Security back into the Washington discussion.

    2. Mark Zandi -- Moodys' media-friendly chief economist isn't seen as an ideologue -- which may be why his enthusiastic endorsement of the tax cut deal between President Obama and the GOP carried such weight. He also provided important support (pdf) for the notion that jobless benefits are a particularly effective way to stimulate the economy.

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  • Snow drifts and ice stalled a New York City subway train this morning, trapping passengers without heat, food, or water for more than six hours--even as the train was mere feet away from a subway platform. They were just some of the countless people left stranded by a powerful East Coast blizzard that shut down roads, rail lines, and major airports.

    The subway train stalled near Kennedy Airport in Queens around 1 am Monday, leaving passengers frozen, tired, and angry. "People are sleeping, people are crying," one rider, John Hammelton, told a local TV station during the ordeal. "We're stuck in a train with no heat, and they're not doing anything, or getting any kind of definitive answers on how long we're going to be on here. It's not good."

    The train was finally towed to a nearby station just before 8am. You can watch a video report on the incident below:

    Meanwhile, thousands of travelers were stranded overnight at the New York City area's three airports, Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark, after more than 1400 flights were cancelled. Blankets and cots were provided in some cases, but some passengers who had already checked their bags were not allowed to retrieve them, and so had no extra clothing or toiletries.

    [Related: Pennsylvania governor slams NFL over postponed game]

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  • Top five video moments from the BP oil spill

    This summer's BP oil disaster was historic in both its scale and duration. But it was also a source of riveting public discussion, much of it captured on video that received lots of buzz. Here are, in our opinion, five of the more memorable video moments of the spill:

    1. Rep. Charlie Melancon breaks down: Melancon -- whose district covers many of the coastal Louisiana parishes hit hardest by the spill -- broke down during a House Energy subcommittee meeting on May 27 while talking about the damage the spill has caused:

    2. Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao suggests BP officials should commit suicide: At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the BP oil spill, Cao -- another Louisiana congressman whose constituent's lives were disrupted by the spill -- spelled out to BP America President Lamar McKay the Japanese tradition of harakiri, while advising members of the BP brass consider the practice. Ritual suicide, the congressman explained, permitted disgraced high-ranking public figures to save face and stave off dishonor to their heirs and families:

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