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Student debt bomb ticking

Laura Flanders contrasts Barack Obama’s happy talk to the graduating class at Barnard College with the realities of the student loans racket:

…Except it’s a different sort of debt bomb. It the sort that individuals have to carry about. Thanks to federal law, there’s no declaring bankruptcy on student loans and there’s no debt relief. There’s no getting a refund for an education that did you no good. At the end of the day those payments can be drawn directly out of your social security check…

The video recording of a journalist was key to a “not guilty” verdict in the case of an Occupy Wall Street protester.

Robbing the poor

It’s a great way to make big money, but you have to rob them in aggregate, as Barbara Ehrenreich points out. “Payday lenders” are especially effective.

Mittens in a nutshell

Mitt Romney apparently is wary of the Super Pac that’s planning a $10 million “racially tinged” attack on Barack Obama, but he had this to say about his own statements regarding Obama’s relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright: “I’m actually gonna — I’m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was. I’ll go back and take a look at what was said there.”

Here it is with the nervous snickering:

‘A dangerous fool’

Krugman on Romney.

Americans Elect calls it quits

Remember this “centrist” pipe dream? The opportunity for a third-party presidential candidacy was there, but nobody would run:

Americans Elect, a well-financed group that aimed to help a viable third-party candidate enter this November’s presidential race, has announced it is ending its web-based push to break America’s two-party system.

The organisation, which was founded with millions of dollars from its initial wealthy backers, had little trouble in organising a push to get on the ballot across America. It managed to secure ballot access in 29 states and was on track in all the rest. But it failed to attract a big-name candidate to join it or generate enough popular support from ordinary Americans to fulfil its own requirements to accept a candidate…

As a result, no single person running on the Americans Elect internet-based website managed to secure enough support to qualify for the Americans Elect primary in June causing the group to decide to shutter the process…

Wall Street creep of the week

It was announced late yesterday that Jaime Dimon will be “invited” to testify before the Senate Banking Committee to discuss JPMorgan Chase’s $2 billion-plus trading losses. More here.

Hunger among the elderly

Hey, it sounds like this would be a really good time to turn Medicare into a voucher system, raise the retirement age and tie the Social Security cost-of-living increases to the chained CGI, so 90-year-olds don’t have as much money to throw around!

URBANA – A new study that looked at the hunger trends over a 10-year period found that 14.85 percent of seniors in the United States, more than one in seven, face the threat of hunger. This translates into 8.3 million seniors.

“In 2005, we reported that one in nine seniors faced the threat of hunger,” said Craig Gundersen, University of Illinois associate professor of agricultural and consumer economics and executive director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory who led the data analysis on the study. “So, unlike the population as a whole, food insecurity among those 60 and older actually increased between 2009 and 2010.”

According to the study, from 2001 to 2010, the number of seniors experiencing the threat of hunger has increased by 78 percent. Since the onset of the recession in 2007 to 2010, the number of seniors experiencing the threat of hunger has increased by 34 percent.

Gundersen said that the fact that seniors in our country are going without enough food due to economic constraints is a serious problem that will have greater implications for senior health.

“Compounding the problem is that food insecurity is also associated with a host of poor health outcomes for seniors such as reduced nutrient intakes and limitations in activities of daily living,” Gundersen said. “Consequently, this recent increase in senior hunger will likely lead to additional nutritional and health challenges for our nation.”

The increases in senior hunger were most pronounced among the near poor, whites, widows, non-metro residents, the retired, women, and among households with no grandchildren present.

“What may be surprising is that out of those seniors who face the threat of hunger, the majority have incomes above the poverty line and are white,” Gundersen said.

Other key findings in the study are that those living in states in the South and Southwest, those who are racial or ethnic minorities, those with lower incomes, and those who are younger, ages 60 to 69, are most likely to be threatened by hunger.

Thought for the day

Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question-how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mahommedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not. 

C.S. Lewis 

Caught in climate change

Australia’s economy is dependent on burning and exporting coal, which doesn’t help matters:

The last 60 years have been the hottest in Australasia for a millennium and cannot be explained by natural causes, according to a new report by scientists that supports the case for a reduction in manmade carbon emissions.

In the first major study of its kind in the region, scientists at the University of Melbourne used natural data from 27 climate indicators, including tree rings, corals and ice cores to map temperature trends over the past 1,000 years.

“Our study revealed that recent warming in a 1,000-year context is highly unusual and cannot be explained by natural factors alone, suggesting a strong influence of human-caused climate change in the Australasian region,” said the study’s lead researcher, Dr Joelle Gergis.

The climate reconstruction was done in 3,000 different ways and concluded with 95% accuracy that no other period in the past 1,000 years match or exceeded post-1950 warming in Australia.

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