Our major cities contain less than a week's supply of food.
Spot On: The headline from Bloomberg read 'U.S. Treasury Gets $1 Billion Profit on Sale of Citigroup Stake'. The comment from Yves: “This might as well be Pravda. Talking about TARP profits in isolation from all the other subsidies banks like Citi have gotten is pure three card monte.” And from the Ministry of Truth, 'AIG exit plan set to deliver a profit.' “We are looking at tens of billion dollar losses on AIG according to all independent estimates. What is this misleading talk about profit?”
Friend or Foe: Pakistan has blocked a vital supply route to Afghanistan – cutting off the majority of the supplies required by US and NATO forces. This appears to be a retaliation for the recent incursions by NATO flagged gunships. The US will reconsider its
bribes payments to the Pakistani leadership and its Army and determine how much it would cost to continue violating Pakistan's sovereignty. If the blockade became permanent, the US would have to scale back its presence in Afghanistan dramatically... and 90% of Pakistanis want the US out. Once again we have failed to consider the other fellow's views.
Silly Question: Dean Baker asks “Will we again grant special treatment to the financial industry by allowing them to skirt the legal procedures required for foreclosures?” And then he kindly answers “In the land of endless affirmative action for the rich, the smart money is on the banks.”
Obscure but Vital: A federal court ruled that US corporations are exempt from the Alien Tort Law. Doesn't sound like much until it is explained that this means that no US corporation can be sued for violating human rights anywhere in the world outside the US. Curiously, the court ruled that such actions (torts) can be brought only against individuals, not corporations (and by extension, not against individuals acting in their capacity as corporate officers). Thus US corporations are now free to hire mercenary armies to plunder other countries, exploit slaves, undertake genocide for profit – yet remain 'persons' when it comes to controlling US election campaign finances.
Voters' Intelligence: The GOP is running ads that say “If you want to keep your Medicare, don't vote for a Democrat who is in favor of it.” And it will work.
Charity: The US voted to give $1.15 billion to help Haiti recover from the earthquake. Generous of us. But don't get to feeling good about our generosity. Not a penny of the promised aid has been sent because a single US Senator blocked the aid. Tom Cobun, Republican from Oklahoma.
Refrain: Unemployment claims came in within the 450,000 – 475,000 range it they have been for the last nine months. Down a little last week, up a little this week. No real change.
Look Ma,No Hands: Iraq, with no new discoveries reported, plans to announce a doubling or tripling of its “proven” oil reserves. This is the same trick the Saudi's pulled back in the 1980's that everyone has pretended to believe.
Rules Is Rules: The Senate has a rule that says that if a single Senator objects to a 'unanimous consent' decree, the matter must pass a cloture test with 60 votes. And if a Senator decides – for whatever reason – to object to each and every 'unanimous consent' decree, nothing will get done by the Senate. Nothing. Republican Jim DeMint, the junior senator from South Carolina, is doing just that. One man gets all the votes. Ah, democracy.
Buy the Numbers: Foreclosed houses were 24% of all house sales in 2Q2010, up 5% from the previous quarter but down from the same period a year ago. Prices on houses sold out of some stage of foreclosure were 26% below non-distressed houses.
Business as Usual: The Senate Democrats and Republicans have agreed to strand hundreds of Obama nominations in limbo rather than let him make recess appointments. Both sides think they are gaining something from this joint one-upmanship; the appointees will not have to start all over (a plus for the Democrats) and the Republicans get to brag they have stopped more socialists from being appointed. Both groups have made yet another spectacle of the idea of democratic government by, for, and of the people.
Warning: “By 2015, 80 percent of South Africa's fresh water resources will be so badly polluted that no process of purification available in the country will be able to make it fit for consumption.” Strange, how something that does not seem possible can seem probable, and not only in South Africa.