Four at Four

  1. The New York Times reports As jobs vanish and prices rise, food stamp use nears record. “Driven by a painful mix of layoffs and rising food and fuel prices, the number of Americans receiving food stamps is projected to reach 28 million in the coming year, the highest level since the aid program began in the 1960s… Eligibility is determined by a complex formula, but basically recipients must have few assets and incomes below 130 percent of the poverty line, or less than $27,560 for a family of four.”

    The Washington Post reports the States are hit hard by the economic downturn.

    State budgets have been hit hard by a worsening national economy, including rising costs for energy and health care. In addition, fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis — declining home sales, deflated property values and mounting foreclosures — has caused a slide in states’ anticipated tax receipts. Revenue from property taxes, sales taxes and real estate transfer taxes is affected.

    At least half of the nation’s states are facing budget shortfalls, some of them severe, and policymakers in most of the states affected are proposing and passing often-painful measures to trim costs and close the gaps. Spending on schools is being slashed, after-school programs are being curtailed and teachers are being notified of potential layoffs. Health-care assistance is being cut for the elderly, the disabled and the poor. Some government offices, such as motor vehicle department locations, will start closing on weekends, and some state workers are receiving pink slips.

    Some analysts worry that the impact is being felt disproportionately by the most needy.

    Americans are hurting while the rich bankers on Wall Street get taxpayer hand outs.

  2. The Washington Post reports Sadr tells his militia to cease hostilities. “Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers Sunday to lay down their arms and end six days of clashes against U.S. and Iraqi forces if the government agrees to release detainees and give amnesty to Sadr’s fighters, among other demands. But after the statement, mortar attacks continued in Baghdad and Basra, and violence persisted in many pockets of the country… An Iraqi military adviser in Basra said the Mahdi Army seemed to have decreased its presence on the street, but that government crackdown on the city was continuing, with the military striking targets and making arrests.” Moqtada al-Sadr has won his stand off with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Oh, and McClatchy Newspapers reports that an Iranian general played key role in Iraq cease-fire. “Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Qods (Jerusalem) brigades of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and signed an agreement with Sadr, which formed the basis of his statement Sunday, members of parliament said.” Power has shifted away from the Bush administration’s puppet government in Iraq. Now how long will it take for Bushites to recognize the paradigm change?

    Meanwhile, Spiegel reports Baghdad’s Green Zone Under Attack. “The high-security Green Zone, home to the Iraqi parliament, the American embassy and military forces, was considered the last bastion of safety in war-torn Iraq. Now it too is under attack.” But you have to agree with me that the “surge” is working, right?

  3. The Los Angeles Times reports that McCain’s health plan fails the test. “Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former Democratic presidential contender John Edwards, said she and John McCain have one thing in common: ‘Neither one of us would be covered by his health policy.’ … Under McCain’s plan, insurance companies ‘wouldn’t have to cover preexisting conditions like melanoma and breast cancer,’ she said.”

    Elizabeth Edwards said only universal healthcare would resolve one of the problems plaguing the healthcare system — its soaring cost.

    “Until we get rid of the need for hospitals and other providers to cover the costs of people who are not covered . . . the overall cost is not going to go down,” she said. “The only real cost savings comes when you have universality.”

  4. The Guardian reports Tidal power comes to Northern Ireland. “As SeaGen – the world’s first and largest commercial scale tidal stream energy generator – was laid down in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, yesterday the company behind it claimed this form of tidal power has the potential to supply up to 10% of the UK’s energy within a decade. If successful, the system, which harnesses the power of aggressive tidal currents, could be replicated across not only Britain but other parts of the world, according to its manufacturers, Marine Current Turbines.”

    We’ll see if the British government can stay focused on the tidal power experiment and not get distracted by the nuclear lobby.

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  1. What’s your 2¢ today?

  2. Alphonso Jackson is set to resign as head of HUD.

    He’s the POS who told NOLA that they’d only get federal dollars if they demolished public housing.  And what a surprise — the city council voted unanimously to demolish, even though there’s a housing shortage and so many homeless in NOLA.

    It was also reported earlier that his wife Marcia has made money off the suffering of New Orleans:

    But Jackson’s focus on New Orleans may, in the end, prove to be his undoing. Federal investigators and a grand jury in Washington are exploring the secretary’s ties to contractors who have been handed lucrative business at HANO under HUD. In at least one case, Jackson helped a friend, William Hairston, obtain contracting work, according to an account that Hairston has given to National Journal. Jackson testified before a Senate panel last year and during an earlier federal inquiry that he never intervened in awarding contracts.

    Jackson’s problems may be growing. It turns out that his wife, Marcia, a consultant in Washington, had financial ties to at least two companies that did business at HANO. In one case, a St. Louis company won a $2.4 million architecture-engineering contract in 2003 for a housing development under HANO’s control; the second company was a subcontractor on that job. In another instance, the St. Louis firm was part of a team selected to redevelop a major public housing project for the New Orleans agency. In each case, Jackson’s allies played important roles in choosing the firm.

    His resignation is long overdue.  And that is putting it mildly.

    • TomP on March 31, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    throwing mud at each other, I’m glad we have Elizabeth Edwards to tell the truth about McCain and healthcare.

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