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What's Going On: Evening News Roundup

Here’s the Saturday evening news roundup:

  • Chinese astronauts experienced their first spacewalks. Congratulations to China. Now, let’s see, the Soviets did their first spacewalk on March 18, 1965. American Astronaut Ed White walked on June 3, 1965.
  • Zimbabwe is in the midst of a huge food crisis.Zimbabwe food lines
  • There is evidence to suggest that Pakistani tribesmen in the northwest frontier are beginning to rise up against the Islamic extremists. I wonder if the Pakistan government or the U.S. government are supplying these tribesmen? This seems to be remarkably similar to the “Sunni Awakening.”
  • At home, what happened on Thursday? Remember, around noon on Thursday it appeared there was a bailout deal. Then, a couple of hours later, there was no deal. The Washington Post has an interesting article today about these negotiations. It appears that Republican nominee John McCain played a central role in derailing the process. It is not clear whether this was intentional or not, but Republicans like Representative Paul Ryan (Wisconsin), ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, were waiting to talk to someone and McCain was that someone. After listening to House Republicans, McCain went to the Senate. He attended a Senate Republican policy luncheon. Senators Robert Bennett (Utah) and Judd Gregg (New Hampshire) explained the contours of the bailout agreement. Then McCain said, “Just like Iraq, I’m not afraid to go it alone if I need to.” Just like that, the deal had gone up in smoke. Is this an example of McCain putting his Country First?
  • In 1992, Sweden underwent a huge financial crisis. Sweden did not bail out their ailing financial institutions. Instead, they bought huge stakes in the banking industry. They increased regulation. Then, as their economy began to heal, banking profits went to the government and the taxpayers. The government was then able to sell off some of its banking assets, making more profits for the taxpayers. Proposing something like this is laughable in the United States. Republicans, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, and probably anarchists would all be dead-set against such a plan. This type of plan would be dead on arrival in Congress.
  • The new National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan has been prepared and it is ready but will not be released to the public. The Bush administration thinks it’s in our best interest. Maybe it’s in the best interest of neoconservatives that their major failures stay hidden and under wraps before a major election.
  • Remember when Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified that White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and then Chief White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales visited John Ashcroft in his hospital room trying to get re-authorization of the double secret surveillance program? There was speculation that the only way that Card and Gonzales would bother the Attorney General while he was in the hospital would be a under the direction of President Bush. Well, it appears that President Bush was directly involved.
  • Fifty-seven million people watched last night’s debate. It is nice to see the country engaged in possibly the most important election in the last 40 years.
  • Someone on the McCain campaign team thought it would be a great idea to send Governor Sarah Palin into an Irish pub in downtown Philadelphia. Philadelphia is the city that is known for pelting Santa Claus with snowballs during an Eagles game. Although there were about 400 supporters inside the pub, there were approximately 300 protesters outside of the pub. Some of the signs read: “McSame/Failin’;” “Hey Hockey Mom — keep the puck out of PA;” “Just like Bush in lipstick.” Sweet!
  • Finally, where was Governor Palin after the debate last night? Senator Joe Biden was everywhere, making Palin’s absence even more noticeable. One Republican columnist thinks it’s time for the Sarah Palin experiment to end. She has asked her to resign.
By |2008-09-27T20:54:59-04:00September 27th, 2008|Afghanistan, Domestic Spying, Economy, Election 2008, Foreign Affairs|Comments Off on What's Going On: Evening News Roundup

Food Crisis Should be Campaign Issue

Rising prices for wheat and rice have created a food crisis in much of the world.

People cannot afford the food they need to eat. Here is an “Economist” story on this subject.

Below is an excerpt from the “Economist” article—

Last year wheat prices rose 77% and rice 16%. These were some of the sharpest rises in food prices ever. But this year the speed of change has accelerated. Since January, rice prices have soared 141%; the price of one variety of wheat shot up 25% in a day. Some 40km outside Abidjan, Mariam Kone, who grows sweet potatoes, okra and maize but feeds her family on imported rice, laments: “Rice is very expensive, but we don’t know why.”

The prices mainly reflect changes in demand—not problems of supply, such as harvest failure. The changes include the gentle upward pressure from people in China and India eating more grain and meat as they grow rich and the sudden, voracious appetites of western biofuels programmes, which convert cereals into fuel. This year the share of the maize (corn) crop going into ethanol in America has risen and the European Union is implementing its own biofuels targets. To make matters worse, more febrile behaviour seems to be influencing markets: export quotas by large grain producers, rumours of panic-buying by grain importers, money from hedge funds looking for new markets.

Here is a “New York Times” story on the topic discussing the global implications of the crisis.

Given that a portion of the crisis has to do with biofuel demand in the United States and that we are all connected in this world, it would be good to hear Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama address this subject as an important campaign topic.

It’s easy to say that we won’t have “cowboy” foreign policy any more. Let’s back up these words with a genuine outreach to people suffering in the world.

By |2008-04-22T10:40:42-04:00April 22nd, 2008|Election 2008, Poverty|Comments Off on Food Crisis Should be Campaign Issue
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