Daily Archive: 08/04/2011

Aug 04 2011

Famine in the Horn of Africa

No more delays or restrictions for Somalis needing aid and refuge

“Fighting in Somalia, restrictions on supply flights, international support staff as well as administrative hurdles have all contributed to the current hardship faced by the Somali population today,” said Unni Karunakara, International President of MSF. “It is essential that both restrictions and obstacles to humanitarian aid be removed as the situation continues to worsen.”

This weekend, August 6 & 7, Daily Kos will be sponsoring a blogathon to raise money for East Africa Food Crisis: 48-Hour Famine Fundraiser

They have decided to donate all monies raised to directly support the work of Médecins Sans Frontières in the Dadaab refugee camp.  An anonymous donor has volunteered $5,000 in matching funds.  

The humanitarian crisis from famine due to drought is worsening and being hindered in Somalia due to the the lack of safety and aid being blocked by Islamic extremists. Us laws that prohibit nongovernmental aid organizations from receiving any US assistance if they try to negotiate with the rebels, has further hindered aid to nearly 3 million who are at risk of death from starvation.

The US development agency USAid said the $28m (£17m) it pledged to Somalia this week would target areas hardest hit by the drought. But, given the strength of feeling the Americans have towards al-Shabaab – it’s on a list of terrorist organisations – and the fact that it controls the two areas of Somalia the UN declared to be famine zones, Bakool and Lower Shabelle, it is difficult to see how those most in need will benefit from the money.

Donald Steinberg, deputy administrator of USAid, said on Wednesday that America needed assurances from the UN that al-Shabaab would not restrict delivery of US-funded aid in rebel areas before it would allow its aid to be delivered.

NBC’s Richard Engel explains how a Somali terror group is blocking aid to famine victims in order to win a political power struggle

Somalia famine has reached three new regions, says UN

Immediate lifesaving help now needed by 3.2 million people in south of the country

The UN has declared three new regions in Somalia as famine zones, including the refugee camps in the capital Mogadishu.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said famine is likely to spread across all regions of the south of the country in the next four to six weeks, and persist until December. Out of a population of 7.5 million, 3.2 million are in need of immediate lifesaving assistance in its worst drought in 60 years, but aid supply is difficult because al-Qaida linked militants control much of Somalia’s most desperate areas.

Aug 04 2011

Sick of being right

Caasandra Herr Doktor Professor

It’s kind of annoying when people claim that I said the stimulus would work; how much noisier could I have been in warning both that it was grossly inadequate, and that by claiming that a far-too-small stimulus was just right, Obama would discredit the whole idea?

Of course, the WSJ also said that the stimulus wouldn’t work. The difference was in how it was supposed to fail.

The WSJ view was that federal borrowing would crowd out private spending by driving interest rates sky-high, that the bond vigilantes would destroy the economy. Note that when the linked editorial was published, the 10-year rate was at 3.7%, with the Journal in effect predicting that it would go much higher.

My view was that government borrowing in a liquidity trap does not drive up rates, and indeed that rates would stay low as long as the economy stayed depressed.

How it turned out.

That’s a pretty clear test; among other things, you would have lost a lot of money if you believed the WSJ view.

Inflation is another issue; the WSJ kept telling readers that a big inflationary surge was coming. Commodity prices have muddied this issue to some extent, but even so actual developments on the inflation front have been a lot closer to what Keynesians were predicting than to the right-wing line.

Of course, I would much rather have actually had adequate policy than be vindicated by the form of our economic failure.

Aug 04 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Glenn Greenwald: Challenging the G.O.P.

There is much criticism that can be, should be and has been directed at the Tea Party. But one virtue that must be acknowledged is that elected Tea Party officials have largely stayed faithful to the promises they made to those who sent them to Washington.

Those candidates emphatically vowed to block spending and tax increases, avoid business-as-usual compromises, and — echoing the 2008 version of Obama — change the culture in Washington. Destructive though they are, they are succeeding. And many progressives — infuriated yet again by the Democrats’ so-called “capitulation” — are likely wallowing in an envious daydream: What is it like to have representatives in Washington actually adhering to their vows and fighting for the principles they claim during elections to embrace?

That said, intransigence is always easier in opposition than it is when governing. And the Tea Party, though often depicted as a driving force for revitalization of the post-Bush G.O.P., seems to be on a collision course with three key Republican factions, conflicts which can ultimately fracture and even cripple that party.

Robert Sheer: The Recovery Is Dead, Long Live the Recovery

The die has been cast. Obama’s “nearly complete capitulation to the hostage-taking demands of Republican extremists,” as an editorial in the normally sedate New York Times described the deal to raise the debt ceiling, is a disaster in the making. It rules out a vigorous government response to the persistent economic stagnation in which joblessness, housing foreclosures and an ever-widening gap between the top 2 percent and the rest of Americans have become the norm.

But to use the word “capitulation” is too kind, since this president, as was Bill Clinton before him, is clearly one of those “New Democrats” who welcomes the opportunity to jettison the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as outmoded political baggage. Otherwise, why would Obama have reached for a “grand bargain” in which he even put Social Security and Medicare cuts on the table before the Republicans rolled him?

Jim Hightower: Obama Says He’ll Really Fight for the People … Next Time

By gollies, America’s workaday majority of middle-class and poor people have a fighter on our side in Washington. Unfortunately, that fighter is Barack Obama.

On Sunday, he waved his white hankie of surrender in the debt ceiling battle, agreeing to a disastrous deal ruthlessly pushed by the loopiest of the tea party extremists in the Republican House. It slashes some nearly $1 trillion from national programs that ordinary Americans count on, puts Social Security and Medicare at risk, and promises to make our depressed economy, and even the deficit, worse.

snip

But we’ve all seen again and again that this guy “fights” by backing up and begging for compromise. For example, even as he caved in last December to Republican demands that the ridiculous Bush tax cuts for the superrich be continued, he talked tough about fighting for fairness “next time.” When will next time be now?

Michelle Chenn: Under New Guidelines, Cheap Birth Control Pays Off for Working Women

Washington’s Old Boy’s club still has its knickers in a wad over the deficit “compromise,” but women across the country can breathe a slight sight of relief this week. The White House just issued health reform guidelines that will mandate insurance plans to provide birth control to women at no extra cost. The measure is long overdue, part of an array of preventive services recommended by the Institute of Medicine for improving women’s health. But the promise of broader contraceptive access coincides fittingly with the debate over the nation’s budget woes, because birth control is an economic issue.

Consider how essential birth control is for working women. When women can control whether and how many children they bear, they can delay pregnancy until they feel they’re ready, and in the meantime focus on career goals, finishing school, paying off that mortgage or signing divorce papers. The “choice” in reproductive choice refers not only to her ovaries-despite the right-wing scaremongering about unfettered female sexuality-it’s about every choice in life affected by pregnancy and sex.

Matthew Norman: The Unmaking of a President

Governing in prose is one thing. Preferring weasel words to governing at all is another

At 50, observed George Orwell, “everyone has the face he deserves”. Unusually for that godliest of lefty seers, he was wrong. Rupert Murdoch passed that milestone three decades ago with no appendages emerging from his temples (although in Orwell’s defence, he may have endured a pioneering double hornectomy).

With Barack Obama, on the other hand, Orwell was broadly correct. The President hits the half-century tomorrow with the handsome, placid features he deserves. It is the fizzog of a gentle, decent if intellectually arrogant man, untormented by the self-loathing that made Nixon look so cruelly vulpine, and free from the lupine seediness that hinted at Bill Clinton’s appetites long before that woman Miss Lewinsky’s blue dress went to the DNA analysis section at Sketchley’s.

snip

Michelle certainly likes it. “She still thinks I’m cute,” said Obama the other day. “And I guess that’s all that matters, isn’t it?” Well, no, you felt, it isn’t. Other things matter too: things such as his fiscal capitulation to the terrorist far right that will rob tens of millions – the very people on whose primary behalf he ran for president – to ensure that the rich, mega-rich and hyper-rich continue to pay a smaller proportion in tax than the average American nurse. Looking at that face today, in fact, the only way it could conform more precisely to Orwell’s dictum is if, in the next 12 hours, his liver succumbed to the jaundice that turned it bright yellow. For this was a heartbreaking act of skin-saving cowardice.

Ray McGovern: Obama Blows a Judas Kiss to the Poor

The unconscionable result of the manufactured crisis over the debt ceiling shows that the political Right knows how to play hardball, and that President Obama and his hapless party know how to get rolled.  There are other options; and we, the people, need to press them home.

The Obama-brokered deal on debt and spending was certainly what the Germans call eine schwere Geburt (a difficult birth); this one should have been aborted.

The Obama surrender reminds me of a sermon that Dr. Martin Luther King gave during the turbulent 1950s, in which he peered into the future and issued a prescient warning:

“A nation or a civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”

Tom Engelhardt: Sacrifice-Lite: The American Way

Post-9/11, doesn’t it seem as though all American experience is blending into a single experience whose label is “your safety”?  Which means, in practical terms, you get poked, prodded, searched, and surveilled wherever you go.

The other day, I went to the ballpark to see my team, the Mets, play the Florida Marlins.  It’s always a shock these days to make your way into the team’s new stadium, Citi Field (named, charmingly enough, after one of the financial institutions that took us down in 2008 and somehow came up smelling like roses).  No more is it just tickets at the turnstile.  What’s involved now is that peek into your backpack or bag, followed by the full-scale search of you, body wand and all.

I always have the urge to shout: I’m here for a ballgame, not the Global War on Terror!  Instead, of course, I just lift my arms and let myself be wanded.  It’s like an eternal reminder that, for Americans, 9/11 did change everything — and for the more intrusive at that.  Once inside, past all the restaurants and clubs, memorabilia shops and sports-clothing stores that now add up to the baseball (basemall?) experience, it turns out you haven’t left America’s wars behind.

Aug 04 2011

Predicting the Weather

Meteorology is a science.

  • If the rock is wet, it’s raining.
  • If the rock is swinging, the wind is blowing.
  • If the rock casts a shadow, the sun is shining.
  • If the rock does not cast a shadow and is not wet, the sky is cloudy.
  • If the rock is not visible, it is foggy.
  • If the rock is white, it is snowing.
  • If the rock is coated with ice, there is a frost.
  • If the ice is thick, it’s a heavy frost.
  • If the rock is bouncing, there is an earthquake.
  • If the rock is under water, there is a flood.
  • If the rock is warm, it is sunny.
  • If the rock is missing, there was a tornado.

Economics?  No so much.

Jobless Claims Remain Elevated

By LUCA DI LEO And JEFF BATER, The Wall Street Journal

AUGUST 4, 2011, 8:34 A.M. ET

New claims for unemployment insurance fell by just 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 400,000 in the week ended July 30, the Labor Department said Thursday. That followed a 21,000 decline the previous week, which was revised from an originally reported 24,000 drop.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast claims would rise by 7,000 in the latest week.



Fears are growing that a new recession may follow the severe downturn of 2008 and 2009. Three former top officials at the Federal Reserve put the odds between 20% and 40% in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal. A Labor Department report out Friday is expected to show the unemployment rate remained at 9.2% last month, more than two years after the recession ended.

Thursday’s report showed the number of continuing unemployment benefit claims — those drawn by workers for more than a week — rose by 10,000 to 3,730,000 in the week ended July 23.



U.S. consumers cut spending in June at the fastest pace in nearly two years, raising concerns that the economy is stalling largely because of underlying weakness following the financial crisis and not just temporary factors seen in recent months, such as higher prices for food and gas.

Aug 04 2011

On This Day In History August 4

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

August 4 is the 216th day of the year (217th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 149 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, the remains of three civil rights workers whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in 1964 to help organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The third man, James Chaney, was a local African American man who had joined CORE in 1963. The disappearance of the three young men led to a massive FBI investigation that was code-named MIBURN, for “Mississippi Burning.”

On Junr 20, Schwerner returned from a civil rights training session in Ohio with 21-year-old James Chaney and 20-year-old Andrew Goodman, a new recruit to CORE. The next day–June 21–the three went to investigate the burning of the church in Neshoba. While attempting to drive back to Meridian, they were stopped by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price just inside the city limits of Philadelphia, the county seat. Price, a member of the KKK who had been looking out for Schwerner or other civil rights workers, threw them in the Neshoba County jail, allegedly under suspicion for church arson.

After seven hours in jail, during which the men were not allowed to make a phone call, Price released them on bail. After escorting them out of town, the deputy returned to Philadelphia to drop off an accompanying Philadelphia police officer. As soon as he was alone, he raced down the highway in pursuit of the three civil rights workers. He caught the men just inside county limits and loaded them into his car. Two other cars pulled up filled with Klansmen who had been alerted by Price of the capture of the CORE workers, and the three cars drove down an unmarked dirt road called Rock Cut Road. Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were shot to death and their bodies buried in an earthen dam a few miles from the Mt. Zion Methodist Church.

Aug 04 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for August 3, 2011-

DocuDharma

Aug 04 2011

My Little Town 20110803: Tim Shrum

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile of so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I never write about living people except with their express permission, but since he is long gone, he is fair game.  He was not really an uncle, but I shall explain that later.  I knew him pretty well, and also his son, Tim, who as far as I know still is living.  But if he is, he must be in really bad shape, so he is fair game tonight.

Aug 04 2011

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

If you do not get Current TV you can watch Keith here:

Watch live video from CURRENT TV LIVE Countdown Olbermann on www.justin.tv