Archive | August, 2011

  • Free Money for Some

    Free money for capitalists in a financial crisis . . . but not for the rest of us, even starving children in a humanitarian crisis. . . Carlos Latuff is a Brazilian cartoonist.  | Print

  • Libya — Lather, Rinse, Repeat — Syria: Liberal Imperialism and the Refusal to Learn

    Two of my favorite quotes come into play here, one by the English poet, Alexander Pope, who explained that “some people will never learn anything . . . because they understand everything too soon,” and George Bernard Shaw, much more resigned and ironic in stating that “we learn from experience that men never learn anything […]

  • Compensate Victims of U.S. Chemical Warfare in Vietnam

    Today marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the chemical warfare program in Vietnam without sufficient remedial action by the U.S. government.  One of the most shameful legacies of the Vietnam War, Agent Orange continues to poison Vietnam and the people exposed to the chemicals, as well as their offspring. H.R. 2634, the Victims […]

  • India’s ‘World Class’ Heist: What the Commonwealth Games Audit Shows

    This has been a turbulent week in India.  On August 5th, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India released its final report on the 2010 Commonwealth Games, placing it before the parliament. No one expected good news.  The games, which were held in Delhi last October, have been under a cloud of corruption and […]

  • Panic on the Streets of London

    I’m huddled in the front room with some shell-shocked friends, watching my city burn.  The BBC is interchanging footage of blazing cars and running street battles in Hackney, of police horses lining up in Lewisham, of roiling infernos that were once shops and houses in Croydon and in Peckham.  Last night, Enfield, Walthamstow, Brixton and […]

  • Saudi King Calls for Freedom in Syria

      The King of Saudi Arabia calls for “freedom” in Syria . . . but where in Saudi Arabia is Khaled al-Johani? Saad Hajo is a Syrian cartoonist.  This cartoon was first published in As-Safir on 9 August 2011; it is reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes. | Print  

  • Obama’s Gift to Verizon: The Poison Pill in PPACA Used to Extract Concessions from Labor

    Since Saturday night (August 6), 45,000 members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) have been on strike from Massachusetts to Virginia — in the largest private sector work stoppage in the last seven years. Health care cost shifting is high on the list of givebacks demanded […]

  • Productivity, Profits, and Job Growth

    An AP article on the latest productivity data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was a bit confused on the relationship between productivity, profits, and job growth.  The article noted the 0.3 percent decline in productivity reported for the second quarter.  This followed a decline of 0.6 percent in the first quarter.  It suggested […]

  • “Living within Our Means” and Standard and Poor’s Downgrade

    The President, Senators, Congresspersons, media representatives, and many ordinary people speak often, these days, about Washington “learning to live within our means.”  Last Friday, the private rating company, Standard and Poor’s (S&P), said the riskiness of lending to the US had risen because the US was not living within its means (i.e. borrowing too much).  […]

  • Cautionary Tales for Would-Be Weather Engineers

      James Rodger Fleming.  Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control.  Columbia Studies in International and Global History Series.  New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.  Illustrations. xiv + 325 pp.  $27.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-231-14412-4. In Fixing the Sky, James Rodger Fleming traces human efforts to control weather and climate from ancient […]

  • Middle East News Roundup: Arab Spring, Royal Summer, Islamist Autumn

    Egypt Amin Saikal (ABC, 29 July 2011): “The Islamist parties [in Egypt] now stand a good chance to win an absolute majority in the parliamentary elections in November, and also contest successfully the presidential election. . . .  According to an Aljazeera public opinion survey, released on July 7, 2011, nearly 50 per cent of […]

  • Listening to What Iranians Say about Their Nuclear Program Instead of Relying on “Intelligence” and Agenda-driven “Analysis”

    As part of the current and ongoing effort to demonize further the Islamic Republic, there has been an uptick in media stories, drawing on conveniently leaked Western intelligence assessments, highlighting Tehran’s allegedly looming acquisition of nuclear weapons.  One of these stories, from the Associated Press, seems particularly emblematic, so we want to look at it […]

  • On the S&P Downgrade

    The decision by Standard & Poor’s to downgrade U.S. government debt reflects its own failings as a credit rating agency.  It says nothing about the creditworthiness of the U.S. government. The Treasury Department revealed that S&P’s decision was initially based on a $2 trillion error in accounting.  However, even after this enormous error was corrected, […]

  • Energy Information Administration Report Undercounts Subsidies to Coal, Oil, Natural Gas, and Nuclear Energy: Renewables and Energy Efficiency Shortchanged by Flawed EIA Methodology

    The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest report on federal energy subsidies, released on August 1, underreported direct and indirect federal subsidies to the nuclear and fossil fuel industries, creating an inflated view of the subsidies that benefit renewable energy and efficiency programs, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).  Although the agency concedes that […]

  • What America’s Debt-Ceiling Crisis Reveals

    The United States has an archaic piece of legislation, passed in 1917, which puts a ceiling on the magnitude of the debt of its federal government in absolute dollar terms.  (Since the various state governments in the US are not allowed to run fiscal deficits and hence incur debt, the federal debt is synonymous with […]

  • What Ails the World?

    “Hmmmm, your problem is capitalism!” Carlos Latuff is a Brazilian cartoonist.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at]  Cf. Frida Kahlo, “Peace on Earth So Marxist Science May Save the Sick and Those Oppressed by Criminal Yankee Capitalism” (1954). | Print

  • The Tent Protests in Israel: Can They Break Out of the (Zionist) Box?

    6 August 2011 The demonstrations currently roiling Israel constitute a grassroots challenge to Israel’s neo-liberal regime.  Beginning as an uprising of the middle classes — especially young people who have trouble finding affordable housing — it has spread to the working class, the poor, and the Arab communities as well, though not the religious as […]

  • Health Economics

    Terry Everton is a cartoonist.  Visit his blog Working Stiff Review at .  Cf. “State of Working America Preview: A Staggering Rise in Health Insurance Costs” (Economic Policy Institute, 15 December 2010); Don Trementozzi and Steve Early, “Romney, Obama Health Care Reforms Offer No Relief for Unions” (Labor Notes, 22 June 2011). | Print

  • Credit Rating Agency That Rated Subprime MBS Investment Grade Downgrades U.S.

    This would have been an appropriate heading for this article on S&P’s decision to downgrade U.S. government debt.  S&P gave investment grade rating to hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities.  They received tens of millions of dollars from the investment banks for these ratings. It would have also been worth asking what S&P […]

  • The Struggle against Stupidity: European and U.S. Governments Continue Wrecking Their Economies

    All money managers’ eyes were on the U.S. jobs report this morning after the U.S. stock market yesterday suffered its biggest drop since 2009 and panic surged through financial markets worldwide.  The headline numbers were not as bad as many had feared: the U.S. economy added 117,000 jobs in July and the unemployment rate edged […]