The latest FOMC meeting amounted to an acknowledgement that while the financial system continues to operate on a day-to-day basis, in a longer-term, historical sense it has completely broken down. Such is the extent of the internal rot that the chief task of the central bank is no longer to try to provide the framework for real economic growth. Rather, it is to seek new ways of shovelling money to the banks and finance houses to finance their operations out of fear that if this is not done, the whole system could collapse.
Since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, the Fed has injected something on the order to $2.3 trillion into US financial markets in the form of purchases of Treasury and mortgage bonds. However, this policy, which amounts to supplying the banks and financial institutions with a massive supply of cheap money with which to undertake their speculative financial operations, has failed to bring about any real economic recovery.
In fact, as the FOMC minutes made clear, key sectors of the US economy are either stagnant or going backwards. Information presented to the meeting showed that, overall, the economy had slowed and there was little improvement in the labour market. Government employment had decreased slightly in the second quarter, while manufacturing production had “decelerated significantly.” The minutes noted that the “restraint from fiscal policy” would hold back growth rates while information received since the June meeting showed that “economic activity had decelerated in recent months” at a faster rate than anticipated. Unemployment was expected to still be at “elevated” levels at the end of 2014.
Tonight the RNC had some strong speakers. I thought the governor of New Mexico did well and so did Condi Rice. I thought Paul Ryan did very well. But for one-liners, I think Tim Pawlenty wins:
Next week, Barack Obama will plead with America to give his failed ideas another chance. He’s asking Americans to give him more time and more money.
Well sorry, Mr. President, but you’re out of time, and we’re out of money.
Marcia's posted the speech in full so you can check it out at her site. Ann's father called her and told her to turn the TV on while Condi Rice was speaking because he was so impressed with her.
I would agree with that and I'm not a fan of Condi (I don't really care for her, in fact). But she stood up there and gave a strong speech. So good for her.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:
Quoting AFP news agency, it observed that attacks took place on at least 27 of the 31 days in July, leaving at least 325 people dead adding that in May, 20 Christian families living in Mosul received threatening letters.
As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Independent High Electoral Commission Chair Faraj al-Haidari and Commission members Karim al-Tamimi and Osama al-Ani "were found guilty of graft" and received a "suspended one-year prison" term. Prashant Rao (AFP) obeserved, "There is bad blood between Haidari, a Shiite Kurd, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law list over the aftermath of 2010 parliamentary elections, in which the premier's list came in second to the mainly Sunni-backed Iraqiya list of Iyad Allawi." Alsumaria recaps the long campaign State of Law has waged against the commission since April. They leave out the fact that a new election law was supposed to have been approved by now for the Electoral Commission and that provincial elections are supposed to take place early next year. Among the disputes is how many commissioners should be on the board. All Iraq News reports that Iraqiya declared today that they do not support increasing the number of commissioners and believe it should be left at its present number of 15.
July 19th, Martin Kobler, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, appeared before the UN Security Council and stated:
As we speak, my political deputy, Mr. [Gyorgy Busztin], is engaged in facilitation efforts to bring about the formation of a new, Independent High Election Commission which is representative of the main components of Iraq -- including women and children and minorities. The urgent selection of the commissioners is essential for ensuring that the provincial council elections due to take place in March 2013 can be conducted on time. I'm concerned that the ongoing political stalemate is hindering the process however. In recent days, I have discussed with political leaders -- including Prime Minister al-Maliki -- the need for a swfit conclusion of this political process and the need for an adequate representation of women and minorities in the commission. Today, I would like to re-iterate my appeal to all political blocs to expedite the selection of professional commissioners. UNAMI stands here ready to actively assist.
Earlier this month came news that Parliament thought they'd arrived at a stop-gap measure: they'd tack on 35 days to the current Electoral Commission. AK News quoted the Chair of the Electoral Commission Faraj al-Haidari stating, "A new board of commissioners was supposed to be formed because the delay creates confusion. The required period to complete the commission's procedures after the ratification of the election law and the budget according to international standards is six months." Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports a new problem today: Test on applicants for the next commission find them confused as to whether Iraq is a royal monarchy or a republic. Prashant Rao (AFP) speaks to a variety of MPs who see the future commission as neither fair nor independent and an unnamed "Western diplomat" states, "This is no longer about an independependent electoral commission. You cannot look at the IHEC issue in isolation . . . The consequences could be bigger."
Turning to veterans issues, Sherry Mitchell (Hendersonville Star News) reports that Henderson, TN is holding a bass fishing tournament on September 15th and "[a]ll the proceeds from the tournament will be used to support veterans, returning military and their families." Vietnam Veterans for America has (PDF format warning) the rules and entry form here. Sabrina Wu (Patch) reports on the Walk All Our Soldiers Home parade planned for September 22nd in Darien, Illinois. The Darien Chamber of Commerce notes that the "parade will honor our local military heroes. Community involvement will be the cornerstrone of the event and we have invited all Darien families to participate in supporting the event by gathering pledges for marching in the parade. A post parade fun celebration will be held at Darien Community Park." Meanwhile antiMusic notes country music artist "Tim McGraw just wrapped his HomeFront program this past weekend in Boston, capping off a summer long campaign to award mortgage-free homes to veterans in need at each stop of his summer tour." At the start of his tour last spring, Tim McGraw announced he'd present a veteran with mortgage-free home on each of his tour's 25 stops. ABC News Radio reports he kept that promise and states, "Each family had touching stories and made an indelible mark on me. From the Delucia family's amazing story of recovery and strength through physical injuries the first night in Tampa to the Connor family, who we suprised this past weekend at their new home with a puppy for their daughter Molly. . . I will never foget any of them." The Call notes the homes were "part of a three-way partnership to recognize the sacrifices of military veterans involving McGraw, Chase Bank and San Antonio, Texas-based Operation Homefront, a non-profit program that provides mortgage-free homes to wounded soldiers. " Country music artist Faith Hill joins her husband Tim from December through April when the two of them headline at the Venetian in Las Vegas.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead notes Suicide Prevention Month is next month and among the events in North Dakota:
Resource fair, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Sept. 10. Programs will include caregiver support, health care for homeless veterans, female veterans, health promotion, disease prevention, minority veterans, suicide prevention and more.• Sept. 9, First Link Walk of Hope for Suicide Awareness and Remembrance, Fargo Civic Center courtyard, 207 4th St. N. Registration begins at 1:30 p.m. For more information, call (701) 293-6462 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Sept. 23, Out of the Darkness Fargo-Moorhead Community Walk, Lindenwood Park, Fargo. Registration begins at 1 p.m. and the walk begins at 2 p.m. To register or for more information, visit www.outofthedarkness.org.
And Out of the Darkness notes:
In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 15 minutes, claiming more than 36,000 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18-65, the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and individuals ages 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths. This is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. Walk to save lives, find an event near you and register today!
Lonny Shavelson (Center for Investigave Reporting -- link is text and video) speaks to Iraq War veteran, Marine Cpl David Smith:
Smith: When I got out of the Marine Corps, I chalked everything that I was feeling up to just being normal. And I met a friend, and he happened to be a Marine. And we just kind of started talking about Iraq and stuff like that, and he could tell that I had some things that I was dealing with.
[On-screen text: That friend was Clay Hunt.]
[He also was waiting for disability benefits.]
Smith: He was the first person who I'd ever really talked to about Iraq, about, you know, some of the more tragic events or some of the more frightening things that happened.
The only way that it was going to happen is if another veteran came and got me and said, "Hey, I've been there, too, and I know what you're going through."
Clay was just an amazing dude, but definitely had some other issues that he was dealing with. We became extremely good friends. We'd literally go mountain biking, like, every single weekend – I guess try and clear our heads a little bit.
In March, 31st, I was asleep and my girlfriend came in, and she said, "Clay killed himself."
Clay? My Clay?
It's just kind of wild. Clay was also working on getting a claim through the VA. It's kind of ironic – I think it was a week or two after he passed that, you know, his approved disability rating showed up at his house.
From the time that I applied for disability to the time that my disability was finalized, it was 414 days.
Access to medical care -- and timely medical care -- is an important issue for veterans. Karen Jeffrey (Cape Cod Online) reports:
Veterans on Martha's Vineyard are one step closer to having local medical services restored -- services that will enable them to get treated on the island rather than having to travel to the Providence VA Medical Center in Rhode Island.
U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., announced this week that a contract for veterans services on Martha's Vineyard has cleared one major hurdle: approval by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The contract must now be approved by the Providence VA Medical Center and Martha's Vineyard Hospital, where many of the services would be provided.
Over the weekend, Iraq War veteran Joshua Casteel passed away and IVAW's Jose Vasquez noted, "Joshua believed his illness was a result of his service in Iraq where he was exposed to the toxic fumes from burn pits and had submitted a compensation claim with the Veterans Administration." Across the country, hundreds of thousands of veterans -- nearly one million per the numbers the VA provided to Congress in July -- are waiting for their claims adjudicated. Aaron Glantz (Center for Investigative Reporting via the San Diego Union-Tribune) reports:
In the US, the presidential election is underway. Tom Brokaw offered (link goes to video at Huffington Post) that last night at the Republican convention, neither Iraq nor Afghanistan was mentioned despite the fact that both wars were "started by the Republican party and promoted by them in the early stages, with the assent of the Democratic Congress and Democratic Senate." This morning, Kasie Hunt (AP) reported GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will speak to the American Legion in Indianapolis today, face-to-face, while appearing at the Republican National Convention in Tampa via satellite to take part in a discussion of veterans' issues with Senator John McCain. Sarah Huisenga (CBS News) reports, "Romney reiterated his desire to modify the post-9/11 GI bill so that veterans are eligible for in-state college tuition regardless of residency. He also promised to make reforming the Department of Veterans' Affairs 'a personal priority,' citing the 'reproachable failures' in swiftly processing claims, and vowed not to raise rates for Tricare, the military's health care program." The in-state residency for veterans is a smart idea and something all the candidates for president should support. It's so obvious now that Romney's suggested it that you wonder why it wasn't part of the original bill. Huisenga and Hunt are two women covering the campaigns and women reporters are in the minority this election cycle. Rachel Larris (Women's Medica Center) reported yesterday:
On Monday the Women's Media Center released the shocking statistic, calculated by The 4th Estate Project, that from the presidential primary period (January 1 to April 15) to the general election (April 15 to August 25), 72 to 76 percent of newspaper stories covering the 2012 presidential election were written by men.
The numbers come from a selection of 35 influential newspapers from across the country. Today we wanted to share some of the byline breakdowns for individual newspapers. The numbers reflect only news reports and excludes blogs and opinion columns. For any article with two bylines, the gender of the first name was coded for the entire article.
Though women appear to be fewer in the presidential election press corps, as candidates, they're making real strides. For example, the vice presidential candidate for the Socialist Equality Party is Phyllis Scherrer (Jerry White is the presidential candidate) and this election year there are two presidential campaigns made up of four women. The four: Jill Stein has the Green Party's presidential nomination and her running mate is Cheri Honkala and Roseanne Barr has the nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party and her running mate is Cindy Sheehan. Click here to sign a petition calling on Ms. magazine and Women's Media Center to cover her campaign and the other female candidate for president Roseanne Barr's campaign. Over 250 people have signed onto the petition so far. Some sign and leave comments and we noted some of the comments in Sunday's "Women Win When Women Run: The conversation Roseanne and Jill are inspiring" at Third -- and "women win when women run" is a theme that repeats in the comments with several people signing noting that theme or expanding on it.
Johnny Green (The Weed Blog) notes and posts Roseanne's first campaign video. Here's a transcript.
OBAMA On Medical Marijuana
[Footage of Barack speaking at a Minnesota Town Hall in August 2011, via CSPAN]
Barack Obama: You know a lot of states are making decisions about medical marijuana, uh, [long pause] as a controlled substance. The issue then is is it being prescribed by a doctor as opposed to, uh, [pause] you know, well -- I'll - I'll - I'll leave it at that.
ROMNEY On Medical Marijuana
[Romney speaking to a man at a campaign event]
Mitt Romney: And you have syntheic marijuana that is available.
Man: Makes me sick. I have tried it and it makes me throw up. I have tried all the medications there are and all the forms that come in [inaudible] stimulators or steroids. I have muscular dystrophy, that's completely against my DNA
Mitt Romney: I'm sorry to hear that.
Man: My question for you is would you arrest me and my doctors if I get medical marijuana?
Mitt Romney: I'm not -- I'm not in favor of medical marijuana being legal.
Man: So would you have me arrested?
Mitt Romney: I'm sorry --
ROSEANNE On Medical Marijuana
Roseanne Barr: Dave, you know one thing I want to say is Obama is trying to take our medical marijuana over there in California and trying to send in federal troops to get our medical marijuana and I'll tell you this, Obama, you'll get my joint when you pry it ouf of my cold, dead fingers. That's when. And I know -- I don't want to get Obama's kill list. You know, I got to look out for drones on my way home now I know.
Supports your right to medical marijuana
The only serious comedian running for President.
Show your support
SEPT 27th, 2012
Montclair Womens Cultural Arts Club
1650 Mountain Blvd
Oakland, CA 94611-2258 US
6-30 - 8:30 pm
Thursday, 27 September
Roseanne Barr: I'm Roseanne Barr and I approved this message.
Announcer: Paid for by Rosanne for President 2012
Register Peace and Freedom Party
Vote Roseanne Barr for President
Attend the 27 September event in Oakland
Meanwhile, Jill Stein's campaign has released the following:
On Labor Day, this coming Monday, September 3rd, we recognize the past sacrifices of working people in their struggles for emancipation, and rededicate ourselves to the movement for workers power in the year ahead. Please join Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala, and the rest of the campaign team in marking this holiday by taking part in your local Labor Day events.
We know that many of you already have Labor Day plans for tabling, marching, and flyering. Check out our revised our flyer (CLICK HERE), and also have a special Labor Day editorial (CLICK HERE) by Jill Stein which you can print out and distribute.
Please be sure to contact HQ@JillStein.org to let us know how much you spent on copies.
If you have not already made plans, and don't know where to start, here are three easy steps:
Let's get the word out that while the bosses may own two political parties, working people finally have at least one: The Greens.
Another place women are visible in the presidential election this year is in the protest segment. CODEPINK is currently protesting at the RNC. Hopefully, they'll have the guts and courage to do as they did in 2004 and protest at the DNC as well. Jean MacKenzie (Global Post) reports on last night, inside the convention hall:
But as Santorum wound down his speech, a commotion could be heard in the upper reaches of the cavernous hall. A young woman was screaming at the top of her lungs, although her words were indistinguishable to many down below.
It was Alli McCracken, coordinator for the Washington, D.C. office of CODEPINK, a women's organization dedicated to "working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into health care, education and other life-affirming activities."
McCracken, just 23, created quite a commotion.
"I got to speak for three or four minutes before they escorted me out," she said.
Her message was simple: If you claim to be pro-life, then do things that strengthen life. Stop the wars, help women get access to quality health care. Make education affordable.
"I don't think Rick Santorum is any worse than the rest of them," said McCracken. "They are all egregiously offensive in their own way."