Daily View 2×2: 13 November 2009

The obvious big news this morning is the Glasgow North East Parliamentary by-election – and discussion is already underway here at Iain’s post.

2 Big Stories

My own two stories this morning have a transport/travel/systems-related bent:
East Coast Mainline back under government control

National Express will hand back East Coast Mainline services between London and Edinburgh and the rest of the East Coast franchise just before midnight.

Falling revenue and rising costs left it unable to meet a commitment to pay £1.4bn for the franchise until 2015.

A government company, Directly Operated Railways, will run the franchise for at least 18 months. Ministers say staff and services will be unaffected. [BBC]

Russia’s changing times

President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia has set out a blueprint for state reform in his first State of the Nation speech at the Kremlin.

As well as modernising industry and cracking down on corrupt officials, Medvedev has proposed reducing the number of time zones in the country – currently there are 11.

Andrei Ostalski of BBC Russian says that the large number of time zones is one of the factors Russians point to as an example of their country’s greatness.

But not everybody thinks that way, he adds.

“A lot of thinking people have been saying for a very long time that it is actually a problem. It could explain why Russia has so many problems with governance,” he says.

“It raises lots of questions about whether you can keep a country as big as this together. Should it be, for instance, a federation?”

President Medvedev made mention in his speech of the difficulties in having so many time zones.

“Have we ever thought about to what extent such a fractional division allows for an effective governance of our country. Does it not result in the use of too costly technologies?”

He pointed out that the US and China – other very large countries – “show that it is possible to cope with a smaller time difference”. [BBC]

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

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