Our local chapter of USUncut shut down a BofA branch yesterday:
Charitable funds from U.S. used to build illegal Israeli settlements. Whee!
Oh look, it really was blood for oil!
Plans to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world’s largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.
The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain’s involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair’s cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time.
The documents were not offered as evidence in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war. In March 2003, just before Britain went to war, Shell denounced reports that it had held talks with Downing Street about Iraqi oil as “highly inaccurate”. BP denied that it had any “strategic interest” in Iraq, while Tony Blair described “the oil conspiracy theory” as “the most absurd”.
But documents from October and November the previous year paint a very different picture.
Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq’s enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair’s military commitment to US plans for regime change.
The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP’s behalf because the oil giant feared it was being “locked out” of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.
Tax day is maybe the single most stressful day of the year for those with ADD. First, you get the “Why did you wait until the last minute?” questions from well-meaning friends (because I didn’t find the paperwork until yesterday, okay?).
I tried to file online. We couldn’t agree, so I printed out the forms and filled them in.
Then I tried to mail my taxes, I really did. But I didn’t realize that the downtown post office wasn’t staying open until midnight the way it always did, nor did they have the friendly people on the sidewalk who always took your envelope when you drove past.
No, this time, there was some huge clusterfuck out on Chestnut Street. There were traffic cones dividing the four lanes, and you were permitted to doublepark in two of them while you ran into the building to mail your taxes.
The thing is, through the glass windows, you could see hundreds and hundreds of tense-looking people standing in a line that wound all through the building. Why were they in line, you ask? I don’t know, but I suspect they had no other option, because there’s no way in hell I’d be standing in a long line like that if I didn’t have to.
So I made an executive decision. I drove home to my little local post office (which, by the way, doesn’t empty the collection box until noon) and deposited my taxes. Then I drove to the Wawa, bought a cream doughnut and inhaled it, because my overloaded brain was screaming, “Carbs! Fat! Sugar!”
I don’t know how much they’ll charge me in interest just because I’m one day late, but I don’t care anymore.
Doug Smith has a good piece over at Naked Capitalism about the $88 million budget cut for HUD housing counselors, calling it “a stiletto in the back of sane housing markets”:
Do the math. The market has too much supply and too little demand. The trends point to even worse un-affordability down the road – meaning more supply and less demand. So, as said, even the empirically wrong-headed extend and pretend strategy requires efforts aimed at reversing instead of exacerbating this picture.
Among other things, reduced housing supply means, as Yves has repeatedly pointed out, doing principal modifications that are actually affordable – which, in turn, requires a new, separate underwriting effort. And, the same applies on the demand side: only careful underwriting leads to affordable, sustainable purchases – and the asset values that go with that.
The banks do not know how to do this work. Nor, as long as they seek usurious rents, will they ever learn.
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Beck says he’s sold his Connecticut mansion, which had been listed for more than a year. Leaving New York is something he’s hinted at on his radio show, but this is more of a confirmation of his future plans.
Beck also outlined his post-Fox News future — for his company, and himself. According to Joe Brooks of WireUpdate.com Mercury Radio Arts is going to develop a research department “that will utilize the idle brains that we have — retired CIA and military,” Beck says.
“What you are about to see in a few months is a new way to communicate with each other,” Beck predicted, adding that he’s going to “build a way to deliver news directly to the youth of America.” Much of that work will likely be headed up by Joel Cheatwood whose last day at Fox News was April 8 and who is now EVP at Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts.