I've posted a comment page on Off Times Square on the world's human population hitting the 7-billion mark. Write on this or something else.
Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: "President Obama pledged at the beginning of his term to boost the nation’s crippled housing market and help as many as 9 million homeowners avoid losing their homes to foreclosure. Nearly three years later, it hasn’t worked out. Obama has spent just $2.4 billion of the $50 billion he promised. The initiatives he announced have helped 1.7 million people. Housing prices remain near a crisis low. Millions of people are deeply indebted, owing more than their properties are worth, and many have lost their homes to foreclosure or are likely to do so. Economists increasingly say that, as a result, Americans are too scared to spend money, depriving the economy of its traditional engine of growth." See also today's Ledes.
"Occupy Newsrooms." David Carr of the New York Times: As their CEOs and other top executives led Gannett & the Tribune company into the ground, laid off thousands of journalists & instituted other cost-cutting measures that shortchanged their readers, their boards of directors awarded these same undeserving executives huge bonuses & golden parachutes. "As newspapers all over the country struggle to divine the meaning of the Occupy protests, some of the companies that own them might want to listen closely to see if there is a message there meant for them." ...
... Update: Karen Garcia has a great comment on Carr's article. I couldn't decide which part to highlight here, so read the whole comment (#105) here. ...
... Noreen Malone of New York Magazine: Occupy Wall Street, along with 72 percent of New York State voters, oppose Gov. Andrew Cuomo's push to let the state's "millionaire's tax" expire. So after OWS protesters occupied an event Cuomo was attending, he went vindictive, albeit against different protesters (because who cares? those anarchists are all the same): "This weekend, he tried to get Albany's mayor, his friend and fellow Democrat Jerry Jennings, to kick Albany's protestors out of a city park at the official 11 p.m. closing time." Jennings eventually declined Cuomo's "request," citing precedent.
Michael Holden of Reuters: "Those who took part in Britain's worst rioting for decades this summer were young, poor, and less educated but contrary to claims by politicians, only a minority were gang members, official data released on Monday showed.... Prime Minister David Cameron blamed 'criminality,' saying that street gangs were at the heart of the problem, and rejected accusations that government austerity measures had alienated youths in poorer communities."
Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: "Bank of America is shifting a huge collection of Merrill Lynch derivatives contracts onto its own federally-insured balance sheet," and the Fed is encouraging BoA to do so. That is, when these instruments go belly-up, taxpayers will bail out BoA -- again. At the same time, "Barack Obama is apparently expressing willingness to junk big chunks of Sarbanes-Oxley in exchange for support for his jobs program." That is, "companies are saying they can't attract investment unless they can hide their financials from investors," & Obama is willing to go along with the subterfuge. "If anyone thought OWS has already done its job, and Washington has gotten the message already, think again."
I believe from the bottom of my being that we’ll eventually have to restore Glass-Steagall. The only question is, How much agony do we have to go through before we do it? We know the solution, but do we have the will? -- former Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) ...
... James Stewart of the New York Times: nobody likes the Volcker Rule, as written, including Paul Volcker. CW: this is a slightly complicated, but readable, article that will reinforce your impression that Dodd-Frank is a huge pile of unenforceable verbiage.
M. J. Lee of Politico: "The Treasury Department is making a full-fledged effort to knock back Republican claims that overregulation is slowing down economic growth." You can read the Treasury blogpost, by Jan Eberly, here.
Jared Bernstein in a New York Times op-ed: small business are not big job creators, no matter what politicians repeatedly tell you. ...
... James Surowiecki of the New Yorker makes the same point, albeit using different data.
Dave Weigel, a libertarian, defends Teddy Kennedy against Joe Nocera's charge that Teddy unfairly maligned Judge Robert Bork, & this was the cause of the everlasting breakdown of commity in the Senate. Actually, Weigel points out, Teddy's critique of Bork's theory of law was right on. CW: half the time, Nocera has no idea what he's talking about. The other half of the time, he's telling you how great his super-rich business acquaintances are. Weirdly, he recently described himself as a liberal. No. Joe Nocera is not a liberal. In my comment on this particular wrong column, I blamed Reagan for nominating Bork, not Democrats for excoriating Bork's legal theses. Other commenters also call out Nocera's ridiculous claim.
Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico: "If the Supreme Court decides to review President Barack Obama’s health reform law, it will also have to choose which issues it wants to hear — and that decision could have a significant impact on the law’s final fate." Haberkorn provides a handy overview of each of the six cases the Court could hear. ...
... AND Part-Timers Don't Count. Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post: "The news came as a shock: Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, would not offer health benefits to new part-time employees.... Only 16 percent of employers offer health insurance to part-timers.... The health-care law that Congress passed last year is unlikely to change that. While part-time workers will have access to new, subsidized coverage on the individual market, the Obama administration’s signature legislative achievement provides little incentive for employers to cover workers who are not full-time staff." CW: in other words, the ACA is another incentive for employers to classify more workers as part-timers -- as if they didn't do this enough already to avoid providing benefits & decent wages.
New York Times Editors: Last week California "unveiled the country’s first comprehensive, statewide cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.... Beginning in 2013, the program places a steadily declining cap on greenhouse gas emissions from 600 power plants, refineries and other sources that produce most of the state’s emissions.... California provides proof that bold action on a large scale is still possible even though Washington remains sadly gridlocked."
... Prof. Joel Cohen, in a New York Times op-ed, on the exploding world population. The article is chockful of scary statistics. "... we need to measure our growth in prosperity: not by the sheer number of people who inhabit the earth, and not by flawed measurements like G.D.P., but by how well we satisfy basic human needs; by how well we foster dignity, creativity, community and cooperation; by how well we care for our biological and physical environment, our only home." ...
... Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "As the global population reaches the 7-billion mark..., ecological distortions are becoming more pronounced and widespread. Sometimes local needs are depleting water, fish and forests; other times food and fuel needs in one region of the world are transforming ecosystems in another. Under either scenario, however, expanding human demands are placing pressure on resources, particularly on world water supply and fisheries."
Right Wing World *
Mitch McConnell: it's wrong to make millionaires pay for programs that benefit firefighter, teachers & construction workers, even though the overwhelming majority of Americans think they should:
... Steve Benen decodes McConnell's thesis: First, he shifts the discussion to small businesses, but "the number of businesses affected is ridiculously small, making McConnell’s claim patently dishonest.... The GOP line doesn’t address the underlying problem because, as McConnell explained yesterday, Republicans don’t care about the underlying problem. What matters is the integrity of conservative ideology, not keeping teachers and cops on the job."
E. J. Dionne: "Republicans have boxed themselves into ... the idea that government can do any good. Thus they have confined themselves to endless fiddling with the tax code. Almost everything conservatives suggest these days is built around the single idea that if only government took less money away from the wealthy, all our problems would magically disappear.... 'Tax the poor' is a lousy political slogan. That’s why Cain’s 9-9-9 plan and Perry’s flat tax are doomed to fail." ...
... AND Richard Oppel & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "As several leading Republican presidential candidates embrace a flat tax as a core campaign position, one contender stands out in not doing so: his tone has been more positive. 'I love a flat tax,' he said in August." CW: I love it when Mitt finds something else to reverse himself on. For every policy, Mitt has at least two positions, usually three: the old one, the new one and the newest one. ..., who has a long record of criticizing such plans and famously derided Steve Forbes’s 1996 proposal as a 'tax cut for fat cats.' Lately, though,
... CW: If you want to know all the gory details of Mitt's great success at Bain Capital (and if making money is your definition of success, it was a great success), Bejamin Wallace-Wells of New York Magazine has 'em. My eyes glazed over by page 4.
* Where 75 percent of the 99 percent are unfair to millionaires.
President Obama spoke at campaign events in Los Angeles, California, this evening. AP: "President Barack Obama waded into the domain of the stars Monday as he hit the California fundraising circuit in one of his busiest donor outreach trips of the season."
President Obama spoke at a campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada, this afternoon. Bloomberg News: "President Barack Obama raised campaign cash in one of the states hardest hit by the recession, telling about 300 supporters in Las Vegas that he has kept his promises even as his agenda remains unfinished."
Salon: "Around 4 a.m. Sunday morning, a bottle of Gatorade containing an explosive chemical concoction was hurled into Occupy Maine’s home base in Portland’s Lincoln Park — causing a small but dangerous explosion. No one was injured, and the Portland police are actively investigating the incident." Portland Press Herald story here.
Guardian: "Julian Assange, co-founder of WikiLeaks, has announced that the whistleblowing website is suspending publishing operations in order to focus on fighting a financial blockade and raise new funds. Assange, speaking at a press conference in London on Monday, said a banking blockade had destroyed 95% of WikiLeaks' revenues. He added that the blockade posed an existential threat to WikiLeaks and if it was not lifted by the new year the organisation would be 'simply not able to continue'."
New York Times: "With his jobs plan stymied in Congress by Republican opposition, President Obama on Monday will begin a series of executive-branch actions to confront housing, education and other economic problems over the coming months, heralded by a new mantra: 'We can’t wait' for lawmakers to act.... Mr. Obama will kick off his new offensive in Las Vegas, ground zero of the housing bust, by promoting new rules for federally guaranteed mortgages...." ...
... AP: "Fewer U.S. companies expect to hire new workers in coming months, as business economists grow increasingly pessimistic about the overall economy's growth in the coming year. Nearly 85 percent of economic experts surveyed expect the economy to grow at a meager 2 percent or less over the next 12 months, according to the National Association for Business Economists. In July only 23 percent of the survey's respondents predicted such slow growth."
New York Times: "Millions of Tunisians cast votes on Sunday for an assembly to draft a constitution and shape a new government, in a burst of pride and hope that after inspiring uprisings across the Arab world, their small country could now lead the way to democracy.... Results are expected to be tallied within days."
AP: "The U.S. has pulled its ambassador out of Syria over security concerns, blaming President Bashar Assad's government for the threats. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday that Ambassador Robert Ford returned to Washington this weekend after 'credible threats against his personal safety.'"
Reuters: "U.S. and North Korean negotiators began a two-day meeting in Geneva on Monday, the second such encounter since six-party talks on nuclear disarmament collapsed more than two years ago. The session, which follows talks in New York in late July, is aimed more at managing tensions on the divided Korean peninsula than resuming stalled regional talks on ending the North's nuclear programs."
Al Jazeera: "Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has swept to a landslide re-election in Argentina's presidential election, winning more than 50 per cent of the vote with most ballots counted. Kirchner, a centre-leftist who succeeded her late husband as president in 2007, had claimed 53 per cent of votes with 75 per cent of results returned, with her main rival, socialist candidate Hermes Binner, trailing far behind on 17 per cent."
AP: "Afghan and NATO coalition forces killed or captured about 200 insurgents in eastern Afghanistan during two operations targeting the lethal Haqqani network, which has links to al-Qaida and the Taliban, the U.S.-led coalition said Monday." ...
... Guardian: "The US reacted with dismay on Sunday after the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, said that he would side with Pakistan in the event of any war with America.... The remark, which went further than other Karzai outbursts critical of the US, was viewed negatively not only in the US but in Afghanistan where opponents accused him of hypocrisy given Kabul's difficult relationship with Pakistan."
Reuters: "Deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son Mo'tassim was shown in video footage broadcast on Sunday smoking, nursing wounds and making dismissive remarks to his captors, apparently shortly before his death last week."