"This vote will erase a tiny part of the injustice done to the Palestinian people," Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told the meeting of the UN educational, scientific and cultural organization in Paris, after the result was announced.
Widespread applause greeted the result of Monday’s vote in the chamber, where a two-thirds majority is enough to pass a decision.
[I]n an emotional session, China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa voted in favor of Palestinian membership, while the US, Canada and Germany voted against and the UK abstained. […]
A US law passed in the 1990s allows Washington to cut funding to any UN body that admits Palestine as a full member.
The US currently funds more than 20% of Unesco’s entire budget. The proposed budget to be agreed by the conference for 2012 and 2013 is $653m, up $10m on the previous two-year figure. […]
A vote is expected in November at the UN Security Council on granting full membership of the UN to the Palestinians. The US has threatened to use its veto.
No member has a right of veto in Unesco, where each representative has one vote irrespective of a country’s size or budget contribution.
This decision was done at the behest of counterparties to those transactions, who wanted those contracts placed under the aegis of Bank of America, whose deposits are insured by the FDIC. The move was made, according to reports, so that Bank of America could avoid posting $3.3 billion in collateral to satisfy the company’s creditors. In other words, Bank of America just got You the Taxpayer to co-sign as much as $53 trillion worth of dicey derivative contracts.[…]
A series of lawmakers on the Hill, including most notably Sherrod Brown, Carl Levin, and Bernie Sanders, are trying to figure out if there’s any way to stop this transaction, but of course there is not. Upstate NY congressman Maurice Hinchey put it best. “What Bank of America is doing is perfectly legal – and that’s the problem,” he said.
This is exactly why the Glass-Steagall Act needs to be reinstated: without a separation of Investment Banks and Commercial Banks, what we end up getting is taxpayer-guaranteed gambling. Instead of encouraging prudence and savings by insuring deposits in commercial banks, the FDIC is now being turned into a vehicle for socializing speculative losses.
So our government is not only no longer encouraging fiscal conservatism, it is doing exactly the opposite, i.e. encouraging speculation and risk-taking. That this is happening in the fever of the OWS movement, and at a time when top politicians from Barack Obama on down are paying lip service to public complaints against Wall Street, should tell you everything you need to know about whether or not we can expect this government to voluntarily enact real changes, and stop making the taxpayer eat Wall Street’s pain.”
After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative.
In addition to negotiations over maintaining a ground combat presence in Kuwait, the United States is considering sending more naval warships through international waters in the region.
With an eye on the threat of a belligerent Iran, the administration is also seeking to expand military ties with the six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. While the United States has close bilateral military relationships with each, the administration and the military are trying to foster a new “security architecture” for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense.
"So bailing out the banks while punishing workers is not, in fact, a recipe for prosperity. But was there any alternative? Well, that’s why I’m in Iceland, attending a conference about the country that did something different.
If you’ve been reading accounts of the financial crisis, or watching film treatments like the excellent Inside Job, you know that Iceland was supposed to be the ultimate economic disaster story: its runaway bankers saddled the country with huge debts and seemed to leave the nation in a hopeless position.
But a funny thing happened on the way to economic Armageddon: Iceland’s very desperation made conventional behavior impossible, freeing the nation to break the rules. Where everyone else bailed out the bankers and made the public pay the price, Iceland let the banks go bust and actually expanded its social safety net. Where everyone else was fixated on trying to placate international investors, Iceland imposed temporary controls on the movement of capital to give itself room to maneuver.
So how’s it going? Iceland hasn’t avoided major economic damage or a significant drop in living standards. But it has managed to limit both the rise in unemployment and the suffering of the most vulnerable; the social safety net has survived intact, as has the basic decency of its society. “Things could have been a lot worse” may not be the most stirring of slogans, but when everyone expected utter disaster, it amounts to a policy triumph.
And there’s a lesson here for the rest of us: The suffering that so many of our citizens are facing is unnecessary. If this is a time of incredible pain and a much harsher society, that was a choice. It didn’t and doesn’t have to be this way.”
"[C]olleges and universities continue to raise tuition far faster than inflation and churn out ever more indebted graduates, two reports released by The College Board today show. With states struggling to balance their budgets, the sharpest tuition increases this year were at public colleges; at four year state schools in-state tuition and fees rose an average of 8.3% to $8,244, while total charges (including room and board) rose an average of 6% to $17,131. Private not-for-profit four year college tuition and fees rose an average of 4.5% to $28,500, while total charges, including room and board, went up an average of 4.4% to $38,589. This year’s increases mean that over the last decade, tuition at public four year colleges, after accounting for inflation, has risen an average of 5.6% a year while family incomes have stagnated. Private four year college tuition has gone up an average of 2.6% a year, above inflation, over the decade.”
The first of Obama’s executive changes could be a help to as many as 1.6 million current students who take out new loans in 2012 and 2013—if, that is, they later earn too little to pay back those loans in full.
The second change will be of some help to potentially 5.8 million of the 36 million Americans who now have outstanding federally guaranteed student loans—but it won’t be available to those who are already delinquent or in default on loans and it won’t help borrowers with any private student loans they took out.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, provided they’re not delinquent or in default on their loans, borrowers with both FFEL and Direct Loans will be able to consolidate them all through the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan program. Borrowers can save “up to” 0.5% on their interest rate. […]
[But] even that 0.5% break is not all it’s cracked up to be. The government is cutting a special 0.25% rate break on FFEL loans brought in for consolidation. The other 0.25% savings, Kantrowitz said, would apparently be realized if borrowers take advantage of an existing provision that allows for a 0.25% discount when consolidators have monthly payments automatically debited from their checking accounts.