Rhode Island Announces 12 “Official Shutdown Days” in Attempt to Save Money, Close Budget Gap

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

States are suffering budgets problems these days, including New Mexico which is now in the process of cutting expenses. Locally, our school district is cutting, too.

Well, the state of Rhode Island has gone one step further.  Press relese from the Office of the Governor:

Governor Carcieri Announces Plan to Achieve $67.8 Million in FY 2010 Budget Savings

Governor Announces 12 Shutdown Days, Operating Efficiencies, Reduction in Local Aid

Governor Donald L. Carcieri today announced his plan to achieve the $67.8 million in unspecified savings in the FY 2010 budget passed by the General Assembly. The plan calls for 12 shutdown days of state government, operational savings, and withholding the 4th quarter of the vehicle excise tax from cities and towns.

“Over the past several years, framed by two recessions, the state has faced difficult budgets, resulting in nearly one billion in lost revenue over the past two years,” said Governor Donald L. Carcieri. “We have managed through this crisis with reductions in state spending, improved operating efficiencies, and without raising broad-based taxes. We have achieved equally significant savings through changes to our healthcare plan, major pension reform, a massive reduction in state employment levels, changes to social service programs, and some cuts to local aid.”

“Even with these efforts, we are faced with more daunting challenges,” continued Carcieri. “The state’s FY 2010 Budget requires my Administration to find $68.7 million in unspecified savings. With most efficiencies already attained, and staffing reductions already made, there are few options left to cut costs.”

“My Administration has developed a plan to reach the $68 million total, through a combination of shutdown days, operating efficiencies and cuts, and a reduction in local aid by withholding the 4th quarter vehicle tax payment.”

Shutdown Days

The Administration has identified 12 days in which state government will be shut down. The following days are designated as official shutdown days:

Friday, 9/4/09 Friday, 10/9/09 Friday, 10/30/09 Friday, 11/27/09 Thursday, 12/24/09 Friday, 1/15/10 Monday, 2/15/10 Friday, 3/12/10 Friday, 4/2/10 Friday, 4/23/10 Friday, 5/28/10 Friday, 6/11/10

The anticipated general revenue savings achieved from each shutdown day is approximately $1.4 million, $17.3 million in total savings for all twelve. In addition, the Higher Education system will achieve $4.3 million in general revenue savings in a manner consistent with the delivery of student services over the school year. A state employee who stays home on all 12 shutdown days, will take home about 4.6 percent less.

This brings the total savings to $21.6 million. These savings assume the cooperation and participation of all branches of government. “We are very well aware of the impact shutdown days will have on state employees and state services. For Rhode Islanders there will be inconveniences; for state employees there is sacrifice. I am asking everyone’s patience, understanding, and awareness that these steps are unavoidable if the State is to live within its means,” continued Carcieri.

The State has met with union officials for the past several weeks in hopes of reaching a consensual agreement to achieve the savings through pay reduction days, similar to the one day pay reduction implemented last fiscal year, rather than shutdown days. Pay reduction days would achieve greater saving days and afford the Administration more flexibility, while providing employees with an additional personal day to be taken at a later date.

While the Administration will continue to negotiate with labor and remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached, each day that passes puts at risk the ability for the state to achieve the necessary savings. “I look forward to working with the various unions to address this situation in another way, but we simply cannot wait any longer to act,” said Carcieri.

Operational Savings

The Department of Administration (DOA) has identified approximately $17.1 million in savings from several areas, including $5.2 million from reducing consultant contracts by 10 percent, and limiting or eliminating seminars, conference and training for state employees.

DOA has identified an additional $8.9 million from a heightened level of scrutiny on all non essential expenditures, including out of state travel, fees and subscriptions, printing, advertising and other departmental expenses. In addition, DOA expects the state to gain $3 million in health insurance savings.

Authority to Withhold Appropriations

“Even with the shutdown days, and the operating efficiencies, we are still far short of the $68 million we need,” continued Carcieri. “I intend to submit legislation for immediate consideration when the General Assembly returns in September that will grant me the authority to withhold appropriations. In these extraordinary times, I need the flexibility to withhold appropriations to properly manage the execution of the budget.”

Previous Governors have had the statutory authority to withhold appropriations. This power was stripped by the General Assembly in 1996.

Of the state general funds – approximately $3.1 billion – one billion of these state funds goes to our cities and towns. This is on top of local property tax and other taxes collected by municipalities – nearly $2 billion. The Governor intends seek authority to withhold the 4th quarter motor vehicle tax payment to cities and towns. This amounts to approximately $32.5 million.

“We cannot continue to funnel money to the cities and towns without their participation in the state’s budget conversation,” said Carcieri.

“While this plan will achieve the $68 million in the FY 2010 budget, we are not out of the woods yet. Since May, we have seen revenues continue to deteriorate. By the first of September, we will close the books on FY 09, and at first blush, revenues are expected to be off by an estimated $65 million dollars in May and June. The significant savings we have realized by this plan are being outpaced by decreasing state revenues, revenues that rely on everyday economic activity,” continued Carcieri.

Online: http://www.governor.ri.gov

Release date: 08-24-2009

Many, MANY moons ago, the State of New Jersey shut down for a day or two, but not for 12 days.

Many, many, MANY moons ago my family would spend a couple of weeks on the yet undiscovered Block Island in a house of a friend who was restoring it room by room.  She called it “Turnabout Cottage” …Let’s hope we can see some “turning about” of all the mounting problems from our financial turmoil.

I don’t see it happening anytime soon, so who knows how many states will start shutting down. And let’s hope essential services to those who need them won’t be at the top of the list for further cutting. Here in New Mexico, witih a large population of poor,  healthcare for those on Medicaid has already taken a hit…

Spirit Renewal: Fledgling Orioles, Green Chile, Solar Ovens…and a Double Rainbow!

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

I’ve had a couple of heavy-duty research things hanging around which I just don’t have the time/urge to complete.  There’s another post on non-GMO seeds that’s percolating.

But, it’s been a spell of having to accomplish other things and frankly, another period of  “give me a break!” Rather than being dragged down by the garbage going on lately, I get this irresistible urge to enjoy my time on the planet for awhile. Forgive me, but the urge becomes imperative!

Over the last week or so, there have been some wonderful things while the world goes crazy.

Sunday (8/23) was a banner day.  I went to the co-op as usual and bought my local veggies and enjoyed their “festival.” First, I ordered my green chile, which I will pick up next Sunday!  It’s organic and will be roasted before my very eyes.  Then, I’ll have to process it, which means peeling and freezing to provide a year’s supply.

The previous week I had attended a talk by the President of the Sun Oven company at the co-op (with delicious food samples–a rice dish and fresh-baked bread) and on Sunday there was a solar oven cook-off (more sampling, this time chocolate cake).  I purchased my oven but we’ve had no real sun for the first time all summer! This oven (see www.sunoven.com) has been installed in places such as Afghanistan, along with a bigger model that can cook for whole villages.  The company is basically operating on a non-profit basis, as ovens sold in the U.S. subsidize ovens in poorer countries.

In the meantime we’ve had visits from fledgling orioles and their parents which have filled the gap…

Hanging out at the jelly feeder...

Hanging out at the jelly feeder...

One of the two fledglings got “into” the jelly, literally sitting in the bowl!  Obviously, a novice jelly-eater, not quite sure of how to approach this lovely treat:

Getting into it...

Getting into it...

Along with the long-awaited rain, came a true wonder….We often get rainbows in the summer, but this evening (Monday, 8/24) there was a FULL, DOUBLE RAINBOW spanning the sky for a long while!  I couldn’t get it all in one frame, of course, but here’s a sampling…

2009_0824OrioleBabiesRAINBOWS0029

2009_0824OrioleBabiesRAINBOWS0027

2009_0824OrioleBabiesRAINBOWS0038

Of course, these pics can’t do justice to the spectacular show in the sky last night!

All these things are experiences that renew the spirit…

Nobody Listening in Washington? Then Send a Message to Gliese 581d…It May Work Out Better in the (Very) Long Run

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Once again, Radio Australia has come through with a fascinating story.  In celebration of Australia’s 2009 National Science Week (August 15-23, 2009) and The International Year of Astronomy,  Cosmos magazine has put together this project:

Welcome To Hello from Earth

Welcome to HELLO FROM EARTH.

This site is collecting messages that will be transmitted to Gliese 581d, a planet outside our Solar System which may support life. Comments are moderated: inappropriate messages will be rejected, and messages must be in English (so we can evaluate them).

Register here to send your message before the deadline: 5pm Monday 24 August 2009 Sydney time (07:00 GMT Monday 24 August 2009)

Gliese 581d, our nearest neighbor outside our Solar System which may support life,  is about 20.3 light years away from Earth in the constellation Libra, so anybody/anything out there might be interested in relating to us here on Earth.  However, many of us won’t be around to find out if they respond, since the message won’t be received until December 2029!

Gliese 581d artist impression

Artist rendition courtesy European Southern Observatory............. Gliese 581d is the outlying planet in the Gliese 581 system, and orbits its parent star every 66.8 days. It may be covered by a large and deep ocean and is the first serious 'waterworld' candidate discovered beyond our Solar System.

NASA will be sending the messages that are posted to the site right after the end of Science Week so why not check out the site, which is crammed full of interesting info, and send a message!

There’s an interesting, short video featuring editors of Cosmos magazine to watch and more details on Gliese 581d and other “exoplanets.”

The countdown clock will be running until the time for messages is over, so go on over and express yourself before time runs out on August 24!  There are messages from around the world (including mine) which are fun to read!

Heck, if your Congressperson isn’t responding to your concerns, maybe some kind soul on Gliese 581d may get back to you…someday!

More info at the site:

Home | HelloFromEarth.net | Gliese 581d | National Science Week 2009.

In Germany, “Dueling Breasts” Join the Ad Campaign in the Run-up to the September Election

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

There’s beem some stuff around the internet implying/stating that to criticize Hillary Clinton’s recent words and demeanor in Africa is an obvious case of “sexism.”

Well, I guess this makes me a sexist as I criticize this woman pol in Germany.  From the BBC World Service:

Merkel’s party in low-cut controversy.

Vera Lengsfeld of the Christian Democrats, who is campaigning in the east of Berlin, has billboard-sized pictures of herself in a low-cut dress next to a picture of Chancellor Angela Merkel in an even more revealing number.

The poster’s strap line reads “We have more to offer”.

The image has been dividing opinion in Germany.

more

So, what does the picture look like?  It was on the BBC site, but I copied it from Spiegel Online, which has a full article on the campaign now going on in Germany leading up to the September election and a picture gallery of all the advertising.  (See:  ‘Merkel Is Planning a Campaign with Nationalistic Undertones’ which asks if these first ads are “any good”…)

Here’s the one in question:

GERMANY/

Vera Lengsfeld, a member of Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has already raised eyebrows with a campaign poster displaying the chancellor's ample cleavage alongside her own, together with the slogan: "We have more to offer." She did not ask the chancellor for approval before using her picture.

I’ll answer that question posed about whether this ad, in a particular, is any good.

I think it stinks!  First of all, Vera Lengsfeld didn’t ask Angela Merkel if it was OK to use Merkel’s picture.

The bigger question is: What the hell is Lengsfeld trying to prove? Does the “humorous” reference to cleavage make it OK to bring her body into the campaign?

What kind of judgment does this woman have?  You’d think a woman politician would want to leave gender aside and stick to the issues for the sake of her own credibility.  And why play into the hands of a global culture which zeroes in on a woman’s appearance first instead of her intellect and other qualities? A global culture which pretty much demeans women non-stop.  Even here in the U.S. of A. in the person of Barack Obama and his finger and his speech writer Jon Favreau who likes to grope Hillary Clinton’s chest even if it is only cardboard.  You know, the same country where the media went bonkers over a ‘”hint of cleavage” that Clinton “displayed” at one point?

Is Lengsfeld trying to emulate the sex queens of Italian politics?

Poor Angela Merkel was probably photographed at a function with no intent of being plastered all over a billboard.  Maybe her dress was a bit too much for any public appearance, but who knows when it was taken? Maybe it was before she was elected Chancellor.  No matter…Merkel has never used cheesecake in her political campaigns as far as I can tell.

Until now.  But not because she wanted to.  Lengsfeld has completely cheapened this political season in Germany.   Merkel has been dealing with an economic mess and has had the guts to not get on the Obama bandwagon. She’s tough and smart.   But now she’s used in a “dueling breast” ad at the hands of another woman from her own party, no less.

And I have to laugh that it’s a “Conservative Christian Democrat” who’s dishing out this stuff!  Sort of conjures up images of those family values Republicans, one of whom recently dashed off from the governor’s office to South America for trysts with his mistress…

Men may compare their “packages” in their leisure time chat, but I’ve yet to see an add displaying a male pol’s crotch on a regular basis.  Of course, there is one exception, though not in exact parallel:  Our beloved leader showed off his crotch to a gaggle of women reporters on his campaign plane.  but he did NOT run an ad comparing his crotch to John McCain’s.  Even he didn’t go THAT far…

Women undercutting other women is nothing new, but this little escapade sure takes it to a lower level than usual.

So, am I a sexist for criticizing Lengsfeld?  If you are even considering such a thing, you should have your head examined!

The point is that women who are assholes in public are fair game for criticism, just like male assholes.  It’s not always sexism that’s in play…

Hillary Clinton At It Again in Africa…This Time, Talking about Elections…

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Can somebody explain all this action in Africa?

Since the Congo incident, the State Department has been scrambling around trying to put Hillary Clinton’s angry outburst to rest.  According to the Washington Post’s Washington Wire, the State Department has reversed itself on how to explain the incident away.  “Bad translation has now given way to the questionner’s “nerves.”

But now, there’s another incident.  As reported in The Times (UK):

August 13, 2009

Dodgy elections? We have them too, Hillary Clinton tells Nigerians

Hillary Clinton has risked provoking American conservatives by drawing a parallel between political corruption in Nigeria and George W Bush’s contested election win in Florida in 2000.

The US Secretary of State made the comparison while talking to an audience of activists in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, yesterday, during an 11-day tour of Africa.

Then, she went into more detail:

But she added: “Our democracy is still evolving. You know, we had all kinds of problems in some of our past elections, as you might remember.

“In 2000, our presidential elections came down to one state where the brother of the man running for president was the governor of the state. So we have our problems, too.”

The State Department went into scramble mode:

State Department officials defended Mrs Clinton’s remarks, saying that she had not been making a partisan point but one about the peaceful transfer of power in the US.

“The point she is making is that it’s about a disputed result and then the willingness of the candidates to accept a flawed result rather than, say resort to violence,” an official said.

Now, I don’t give two hoots about offending “conservatives,” but the crap coming out of State about a “peaceful transfer of power” bugs me. Yeah, those thugs sent down to Florida from D.C. were really inspiring, weren’t they? But, of course, thuggery in the current Chicago on the Potomac crowd is de rigeur these days, so I guess we can forget 2000…And calling 2000 a “flawed result” is so, so…civilized!!  Makes me want to wretch at the new myth making about 2000…

So our democracy is “evolving?”   To me, it seems more like it’s DEVOLVING…

Of course, what bugs me even more is that Clinton seems to be careful about avoiding any mention of  the Democrat’s own primaries last year and the problems with THAT whole process…Talk about IRONY!!!

I don’t know why Clinton is blabbing so much in Africa these days, but something must be going on in her psyche.  Hillary seems to have contracted the contagion of nonsense that prevails these days.

As  for MY psyche, at this point I’m so totally disgusted with everything about the Obama Administration that I want to bury myself in a carton of ice cream and stay in the house watching movies all day…anything to avoid what the media may say on this latest matter, which will be another source of diversion from critical issues if and when the chorus begins…

The Complicated Diplomatic Life of Hillary Clinton (UPDATE 1X: Clinton on the Defensive in Congo over Bill’s “Presence”; UPDATE 2X: Bill Off the Leash?; UPDATE 3X: Video of Clinton Congo Outburst, Glenn Beck Comments)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

UPDATE 1: 8/10/09 PM:

Apparently, Hillary Clinton IS getting touched by the recent focus on her husband–in Congo, no less!  This is SO NOT GOOD! And in so many ways…for women, for Clinton herself, for the country…is the final set-up in place for her to leave? A large part of her visit to Congo is going to focus on the mass rapes in the country and human rights issues, but by the time the following report gets to the U.S. that emphasis will probably be lost.

Note: I’ve deleted the original excerpt after seeing that it was from the AP….replaced by the story from the France24/AFP:

Clinton pushes rights issues in Congo, Angola

snip

Clinton faced a flurry of questions from the students, not all to her liking. At one point, she showed a rare flash of public anger as a young man asked for the views of her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

“My husband is not the secretary of state, I am,” Clinton said forcefully.

The AP story also quoted her as saying she wouldn’t be “channeling” Bill Clinton and described her response as being “snapped.”

The Voice of America news omits the exchange and the BBC story only cites the last line/quotation (without the “she snapped” or the “forcefully.”)

UPDATE 2

Albert R. Hunt, Exec. Editor for Washington for Bloomberg News opined 8/10:

Big Dog May Not Return to Leash After Pyongyang

What will this Pandora’s Box yield?

UPDATE 3   8/11/09   AM

From the AP story at FOX News, the video…and, as predicted, this is going viral. Glenn Beck was razzing Clinton about this on his AM radio show just now and will sending it in his newsletter.  He did make one comment that makes a lot of sense: that Clinton must really regret that she took the job.  Whatever it is, she’s cleary frustrated as hell.  Beck also played a tape of her during the campaign in which she shouts about how “Amercans have a right to debate” and how “debate is patriotic” (in reference to the Bush Administration). Beck mocked her “gentle” style and compared it to her outburst in Congo.  He also commented on her absence from the trip to Russia and the N. Korean business.  He was implying that she was being cut out of the loop.   He was caustic, of course, but an awful lot of it was spot on.  Especially when he finished up by saying that the Obama/ACORN machine had taken down the Clinton machine–that’s how scary these people (Obama people)  are.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “untitled“, posted with vodpod

***

ORIGINAL POST BEGINS HERE (Touching on what’s been brewing and finally came out today, as reported above.)”

This is a complicated post that has evolved over several days observation…

To start,  back on Tuesday, 8/4/09,  I posted a little comment over at the TD Blog’s open thread on Bill Clinton’s mission to N. Korea to free Al Gore’s journalists/reporters  from Current TV (or whatever they are).  I commented:

I expect to hear at some point that Bill’s success shows that Hillary sucks at being SOS…

So, lo and behold, I listened to the report on the “rescue” the next  morning on the BBC World Service news bulletin (at 1400 UTC)  and at the very end, the throwaway comment by a reporter on the phone (a British reporter, not an American) was (sic) “What’s interesting is that SOS Hill Clinton is married to Bill Cinton and he accomplished what she couldn’t.”  The AP on Thursday (8/6) in an analysis piece (can’t quote them) and the L.A. Times in a news story that, of course, includes “analysis” used the word “overshadow” in their post-mission coverage.

Meanwhile, over at the BBC’s “Have Your Say” page, the teaser is “Should Africa Listen to Hillary Clinton?”

Should Africa listen to Hillary Clinton?

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has begun a tour of Africa, saying improving democracy is the key to boosting trade and development. But should Africa follow her advice? (more)

Gee, I thought she was representing the Obama Administration/the United States–why the “personalization” of her foreign policy trip?

Well, I guess it’s understandable, since Clinton has personalized some of her rhetoric, notably her comments in late July regarding North Korea. From the detailed coverage of the spat at India’s IBNLive:

“Maybe it’s the mother in me, the experience I’ve had with small children and teenagers and people who are demanding attention, Don’t give it to them,” she said in the interview.

She also said the North Koreans were like “little children” who “had no friends left.”

I have no no problem to the reference to motherhood, in general, but …did Clinton’s acid comments really help the situation?

North Korea’s Foreign Minister issued a scathing response. From the KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY of DPRK(Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)

She said during her recent trip to India that “north Korea should not receive the attention it is seeking through behavior like missile launches,” likening Pyongyang’s behavior to that of unruly children. Her words suggest that she is by no means intelligent.

The DPRK has taken necessary measures to protect the nation’s sovereignty and right to existence to cope with the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat, not to attract anyone’s attention.

snip

We cannot but regard Mrs. Clinton as a funny lady as she likes to utter such rhetoric, unaware of the elementary etiquette in the international community.

Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping.

Anyone making misstatements has to pay for them.

While some stories in the Western press called N. Korea’s personal attack “bizarre”  (See: the Agence France-Press report at News.com.au titled  North Korea in bizarre Hillary Clinton attack ),  over at IBNLive there’s a vote up on Clinton, up or down which is basically tied, and also a place where, among several choices,  you can give her flowers or throw tomatoes, complete with a “live action” tomato throw at Clinton.  Currently the tomatoes are the most popular choice.

The result of this spat was that the 6-party talks were declared “dead”….but the rhetoric was toned down and backchannel work to reset the playing field  was undertaken and then, enter Bill Clinton and the freeing of the Current TV writers.

Early on,  Asia Times Online, the “private” nature of Bill’s N. Korean rescue mission was nabbed as a “fantasy”: See Dear Leader stars in Bill and Hillary show for a good read.

Clinton was just the high-profile visitor North Korea hoped to entice from Washington in return for handing over the journalists.

Why bother to pretend otherwise, after wife Hillary, as secretary of state, had laid the groundwork by saying that maybe Ling and Lee had made a mistake and strayed across the Tumen River border with China when North Korean soldiers picked them up on March 17? And hadn’t Hillary already expressed an apology for the mishap after having said earlier the two had done nothing wrong?

The Independent Opinion Page seemed to think everything is OK for Hillary:

Yet one perk now stands out. How many other jobs would enable a woman to send her philandering husband to North Korea? Many women have fantasised about it. Mrs Clinton has actually done it. Take note Harriet Harman. Some sisters, at least, are letting their menfolk know who wears the (pantsuit) trousers.

Well, that BBC reporter quoted up top doesn’t seem to echo this shallow assessment. Neither did the AP or the L. A. Times and other media outlets. From the  above L.A. Times story,

It once again led to him overshadowing his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, even as she is on her own diplomatic trip to Africa.

snip

At the same time, the trip left some uncertainty about how Clinton’s new diplomatic career is fitting in with that of his wife, America’s chief diplomat. While Bill Clinton was in a worldwide spotlight, the debut of Hillary Clinton’s 11-day trip to Africa received scant attention. She has been trying to raise her visibility in an administration stocked full of capable diplomats and influential White House foreign policy aides. The Africa trip, including stops in Kenya — Obama’s father’s homeland — and several longtime hot spots, was meant to help her raise her own profile.

In an NBC interview Wednesday, the secretary of State said that though she had originally favored Gore for the North Korea assignment, she was “very much in favor” of sending her husband once the North Koreans requested it.

And, here’s something else, also from the L.A. Times story:

“This is really going to help consolidate his role as an elder statesman,” said Ross Baker, a political analyst at Rutgers University. “It almost gave him a kind of heroic tint.”

So Bill is the hero of the story; Hillary, not so much. Heck, by the end of the week on the McLaughlin Group, Hillary Clinton’s name didn’t even come up in the discussion of Bill’s trip to N. Korea and its potential implications at all!

Back to that BBC news bulletin I mentioned right up at the top…

A short bit later in the same news bulletin, I heard the report on Hillary Clinton’s umbrage at the Kenyan government…their corruption, impunity, and failure to correct the problems that resulted in the post-election violence back in December 2007.

The BBC story below has a video of  Clinton Speaking at the 8th AGOA Conference.

Kenya impunity ‘disappoints US’

snip

Addressing the press following a meeting with the Kenya’s president and prime minister, Mrs Clinton strongly criticised Kenya’s political leadership.

She said the absence of strong and effective institutions had permitted ongoing corruption, impunity and human rights violations.

And she noted that these conditions had helped fuel the violence that engulfed the country in early 2008.

“We’ve been very clear in our disappointment that action has not been taken [over the violence],” she said.

“It is far preferable that it be done in the regular course of business, that prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officials step up to their responsibilities and remove the question of impunity.”

The violence broke out after supporters of Raila Odinga – the main opposition leader at the time – said he had been cheated of victory in the December 2007 polls.

Clinton adds:

“I want you to know President Obama feels a personal connection and commitment to the future of Kenya.”

If you listen to her speak this line, she enunciates every word very carefully, as if she wants to make sure everyone listening gets it.  It’s overkill, of course.  Perhaps over-compensating for Obama’s ties to Odinga and the same old, same old foreign policy that’s chugging along. Or some reflexive sense that she has to make sure any hint of “not being fully on board” is dispelled.  Whatever.  It seems to happen fairly often.

A little bit below this video there’s an audio clip which discusses the main concern of the U.S. regarding  Africa, namely, OIL, since 24% of our imports come from Africa and catching up with China, Russia, and India.

Emira Woods, Liberian-American  journalist and an “expert on U.S. foreign policy in Africa”  comments, that  despite the ” lofty rhetoric” of Obama’s Inaugural Address, U.S. foreign policy is “still focused on a  narrow definition of U.S  interests” with regard to “extractive industries”…oil, gas, and mining.  Then there’s the “land grab” which is going on across the African continent.  According to Woods, large “tracks of lands” are being turned over to the production of biofuels to fuel cars around the world, but there’s really very little concern about feeding starving children.  Woods also relays concerns about the militarization of Africa. (Note: Both the Clinton video and the Woods audio are here on one page:   http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8185626.stm).

Very little “hope and change” over there, just like there’s very little here at home…

And in Angola, Clinton pushed for  “credible elections”…you know, the kind the Democrats gave us last year during the primaries.  Eek!

Of course, the topic turned to oil. From the BBC:

In Luanda, Mrs Clinton is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with American oil giant Chevron and the US Agency for International Development (USAid) to promote investment in Angola’s agricultural sectors like coffee and bananas.

Asked about China’s growing influence in Angola, Mrs Clinton said she was not interested in what other people were doing in Angola because her focus was on what the US was doing.

Last year, Angola overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s leading source of crude oil.

She’s not interested in what China is doing?  Really?  Oh, please.  It sounds sort of glib, doesn’t it? And completely disingenuous…

So, basically, all the trumpeting of a new foreign policy seems to be a lot of hot air and not much different than anything that’s come before. The U.S.’s self-interest is still all wrapped up in oil.

Remember how during the Bush years we got all sorts of big talk?  Remember the infamous “axis of evil” reference in his 2002 State of the Union address (axis = North Korea, Iran & Iraq)?  Well, there are times when Clinton sounds just like George W. with her sometimes very harsh or very glib statements.

Now, I really deplore the snark from that BBC reporter aimed at  Hillary Clinton about Bill coming to the rescue.  She seems to absorb al this without batting an eye. Then again, Hillary got the “street finger” from the Obama crew during the primaries. And she chose to leave the Senate and sign on with the Obama crowd.  It’s nice that she’s adding some comments about women in her speeches, but in real life, she’s being slimed by a reporter for the BBC and undercut in her desired appointments to positions by the Obama team.  It’s been reported that HIS  people are in under her, not her first choices for key jobs.  And now, Bill has re-entered and is the new hero of the N. Korea situation.

But she’s apparently OK with all this. (?)

So, the upshot of how this makes me feel is that 1) She’s getting shafted or undercut too often and 2) Sometimes she speaks in ways that makes me scratch my head. But most of the time, I just wonder what will happen next. What does Bill do next?  Madeline Albright sure didn’t have to deal with this sort of thing. I can’t figure it out, unless Clinton is used to the soft form of “battered wife” syndrome.  Then there’s the dealings with Obama, the guy who cheated and muscled himself into the nomination.  Here she is, right on board the train with the usual U.S. foreign policy, surrounded by Obama loyalists, while he keeps his nose clean. I guess she’s OK with this and how she must defer to his lead, but it I don’t feel OK watching it all happen.

So, while others cling to Hillary Clinton as their personal inspiration, I can only say that I’m left with very mixed feelings at this point. I sort of shake my head and say ” Too bad”  about Clinton’s odd position at State, along with everything else that is “too bad” these days…

The Past Week: August 2-8, 2009 (Detroit’s Middle Class Faces Hunger; Accelerating Bank Failures; Eustace Mullins/FOEM’s Site)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

I’ve been bogged down all week. And yesterday I spent 3 hours online for a seminar involving financial cycles.  Plus, I’ve been working a on meandering piece that will go up next week and have a few more things I’m working on.

But, here are a couple of tidbits that I ran across this week:

First, the middle class is starting to feel the pangs of hunge. CNN coughed up the story:

Hunger hits Detroit’s middle class

snip

In this recession-racked town, the lack of food is a serious problem. It’s a theme that comes up again and again in conversations in Detroit. There isn’t a single major chain supermarket in the city, forcing residents to buy food from corner stores. Often less healthy and more expensive food.

As the area’s economy worsens –unemployment was over 16% in July — food stamp applications and pantry visits have surged.

I know there’s been talk about reclaiming blighted urban lands in places like Flint, MI and turning it back to a natural state and for food production. Apparently, the good citizens of Detroit aren’t waiting around for that as urban gardens are springing up on abandoned property.

Detroiters have responded to this crisis. Huge amounts of vacant land has led to a resurgence in urban farming. Volunteers at local food pantries have also increased.

But the food crunch is intensifying, and spreading to people not used to dealing with hunger. As middle class workers lose their jobs, the same folks that used to donate to soup kitchens and pantries have become their fastest growing set of recipients.

more

What will they do in the winter when the gardens die?

***

Wonder how the banks are really doing?  Here’s a view of reality from Jeff Nielson’s Instablog:

Accelerating U.S. bank-failures refute “recovery” hype

With 69 failed banks already this year, bank failures are already on course to exceed the number of failures in 2008 by 400%. However, if they continue accelerating, that increase could easily rise to 500% or 600%.

Meanwhile, despite raising the size of its bribes to take over these failed companies, the FDIC is seeing less bidders step up to bid on these companies. It’s “insurance fund” will be nearly completely exhausted when the pending failure of Texas-based Guaranty Bank takes place – forcing it to tap into a $200 billion “line of credit” from the insolvent U.S. Treasury. Does this sound like an economy which is “recovering”?

He continues with a good overview of housing, consumer credit, business credit, and the bailout as a whole.  It won’t make you happy…

***

I’ve added a new link to the Financial blog roll–a wealth of information here!!

DollarDaze

***

Finally, a while back American Lassie wrote a post on Eustace Mullins titled Eustace Mullins’ “Secrets of the Federal Reserve”: Read About what Ezra Pound Called “The Great Betrayal”. We had a comment this week that led us back to FOEM’S Site (Friends of Eustace Mullins Society). There are recent pictures of the man himself; he’s alive and kicking!

THE PAST WEEK

Forget the Mainstream Media “Business Analysts”: Economics Prof Explains Obamanomics and Conducts Experiment That Proves His Point

The Past Week: July 26-August 1, 2009 (Inflation vs. Deflation; CNBC Ratings Plunging; Wind Turbines; Perpetuum Jazzile and Simulated Rain)