The Palestinians are accusing Washington of killing all hope of reviving the peace process with the Israelis. It comes after the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, signaled a U-turn on settlement building. During a visit to Jerusalem, she told the Palestinians – the issue is not now a precondition for negotiations. Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland takes a look at the ramifications.
The recession is over. Yesterday’s report from the Commerce Dept. confirmed that the economy expanded in the third quarter by 3.5 percent, better than most economists estimates. GDP had contracted in the four previous quarters in the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression. Massive government stimulus, cash for clunkers, and inventory restocking accounted for most of the surge in economic activity. Consumer spending grew at 2.36 percent while consumer credit continued to contract at a near-record pace of 4.5 percent. Unemployment swelled to 9.8 percent, “with nearly nearly 26 million workers—17 percent of the workforce—unemployed or underemployed,” according to economist Mark Zandi. The economy remains extremely weak and is expected to lapse back into recession if the Obama administration fails to provide a second-round of stimulus.
By some coincidence in the last three days I read Men Like Gods of H. G. Wells and watch the films Idiocracy, City of Ember and WALL-E. They all deal with humankind’s future, a very bleak future that could possibly become the ultimate Utopia or perfect world, not before another world war, the extinction of humanity, and survival of a few humans to come back to Earth from space, or emerging from underground to start anew. Is this what we can expect of our future, imminent self-destruction?
Should we be planning colonies and ship them into space or below ground, like, right now? Is it because we feel the end of humanity is fast becoming, that we are far reaching the end of all our broken institutions, that suddenly the topic of our future, or lack of it, is so pro-eminently featured even in children’s films? The topic is not new, H. G. Wells’ discourse in Men Like Gods is so up to date with what is happening today, even though it was written in 1923, that one must believe nothing has changed socially and politically for the last 100 years.
I had a long conversation with my favorite physician, who has operated on me twice successfully. He is an incredibly kind person without an ounce of greed or pretense. Like other physicians I have spoken to, he spoke eloquently about the terrible times he consistently has with private health insurance companies.
While he praises Medicare for its simplicity and certainty, he has absolutely nothing positive to say about private insurers. They take up huge amounts of time of him and his staff, trying in every possible way to deny services to their customers (his patients) and also to pay as little as possible to him. His endless struggles with the insurance companies make his life miserable. Meanwhile all he cares about is giving his patients the very best care and not making them suffer because of their insurance carriers.
Pouring money into the private banking system has only fixed the economy for bankers and the wealthy; it has not done much to address either the fundamental problem of unemployment or the debt trap so many Americans find themselves in.
President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan has so far failed to halt the growth of unemployment: 2.7 million jobs have been lost since the stimulus plan began. California has lost 336,400 jobs. Arizona has lost 77,300. Michigan has lost 137,300. A total of 49 states and the District of Columbia have all reported net job losses.
The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Tuesday on a resolution calling on President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the ‘Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’ in multilateral fora.” Continue reading →
By Greg Gordon
November 1, 2009
WASHINGTON — In 2006 and 2007, Goldman Sachs Group peddled more than $40 billion in securities backed by at least 200,000 risky home mortgages, but never told the buyers it was secretly betting that a sharp drop in U.S. housing prices would send the value of those securities plummeting.
Goldman’s sales and its clandestine wagers, completed at the brink of the housing market meltdown, enabled the nation’s premier investment bank to pass most of its potential losses to others before a flood of mortgage defaults staggered the U.S. and global economies.