Monday ReadsPosted: October 17, 2011
The weekend flew by for me and I still have a huge number of things to do! I think I slept away most of it. Here’s some things to get you started.
It’s seems that the state of Illinois has its own little sovereign wealth problem. This is an incredible story.
Drowning in deficits, Illinois has turned to a deliberate policy of not paying billions of dollars in bills for months at a time, creating a cycle of hardship and sacrifice for residents and businesses helping the state carry out some of the most important government tasks.
Once intended as a stop-gap, the months-long delay in paying bills has now become a regular part of the state’s budget management, forcing businesses and charity groups to borrow money, cut jobs and services and take on personal debt. Getting paid can be such a confusing process that it requires begging the state for money and sometimes has more to do with knowing the right people than being next in line.
As of early last month, the state owed on 166,000 unpaid bills worth a breathtaking $5 billion, with nearly half of that amount more than a month overdue and hundreds of bills dating back to 2010, according to an Associated Press analysis of state documents.
The true backlog is even higher because some bills have not yet been approved for payment and officially added to the tally. This includes the Illinois health care agency, which says it is sitting on about $1.9 billion in bills from Medicaid providers because there’s no money to pay it.
While other states with budget problems have delayed paying their bills, the backlog in Illinois is unmatched, experts say. Year after year, Illinois builds its budget on the assumption that it will pay its bills months late — essentially borrowing money from businesses and nonprofits that have little choice but to suffer the financial hardship.
The unpaid bills range from a few pennies to nearly $25 million. In early September, for example, Illinois owed $55,000 to a small-town farm supply business for gasoline, $1,000 to a charity that provides used clothing to the poor, $810,000 to a child-nutrition program.
The lights of the media are now glaring on Herman Cain. The resulting portrait is of one really extremist man who is being generously supported by the Koch Brothers. He’s beginning to remind me of Glenn Beck.
Cain’s campaign manager and a number of aides have worked for Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, the advocacy group founded with support from billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, which lobbies for lower taxes and less government regulation and spending. Cain credits a businessman who served on an AFP advisory board with helping devise his “9-9-9” plan to rewrite the nation’s tax code. And his years of speaking at AFP events have given the businessman and radio host a network of loyal grassroots fans.
The once little-known businessman’s political activities are getting fresh scrutiny these days since he soared to the top of some national polls.
His links to the Koch brothers could undercut his outsider, non-political image among people who detest politics as usual and candidates connected with the party machine.
He doesn’t support availability of abortions for victims of rape or incest. He was interviewed by David Gregory yesterday.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said Sunday that he didn’t agree with abortion “under any circumstance.”
The candidate, who has promised to work to overturn Roe v. Wade, told NBC’s David Gregory that he believes in “life from conception.”
“I do not agree with abortion under any circumstance,” he insisted.
“Exceptions for rape and incest?” Gregory asked.
“Not for rape and incest,” Cain replied. “Because if you look at rape and incest, the percentage of those instances is so miniscule that there are other options
He may just love him some clumps of cells but he wants an electrified fence on the US border. Oh, wait, that’s a joke just like the moat with alligators. I guess live Mexicans can either get fried or eaten but every zygote is sacred. He may have walked back his comments yesterday, but remember, these same comments were met with cheers in the last Republican debate. Note to Canadians: Come on down! Fences and moats only apply to our Southern border so if you’re Arcadian, you get a pass!
At two campaign rallies in Tennessee on Saturday night, the Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said that part of his immigration policy would be to build an electrified fence on the country’s border with Mexico that could kill people trying to enter the country illegally.
But by Sunday morning, in a dramatic change of tone, Mr. Cain, a former restaurant executive, said he was only kidding.
“That’s a joke,” Mr. Cain told the journalist David Gregory during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he was asked about the electrified fence. “That’s not a serious plan. I’ve also said America needs to get a sense of humor.”
Mr. Cain’s attempt to pass off incendiary comments as nothing but a joke may take more effort, however. In making the initial remarks about an electrified fence killing illegal immigrants, Mr. Cain was detailed and repetitive. He did not introduce his thoughts as anything but serious commentary, beginning with the words, “We have a crisis of illegal immigration.”
Can we say bigoted and demagogic boys and girls? Yes, we can!!! I certainly hope this guy is off Mitt Romney’s short list of VP potentials. He’s more bombastic and less fit for office than Quitterella and that says a lot!
Ford and its workers appear to be coming to agreement over their contract for the next four years. Ford is the one US car dealer that made it through the recession without relying on government largess. Instead, it sold many of its foreign subsidiaries to other companies and focused on building its domestic lines. I bought some Ford stock at the dept of the market plunge for $1.67 cents a share. I’m hoping that’s one bet that will pay off well!
“Times are obviously better for the company and the executives are getting raises, but they don’t want to give anything back to the workers,” Gary Walkowicz, a union official with Local 600 who led a “Vote No” campaign, said Oct. 13. “People feel they deserve more. There is a lot of anger out here.”
The UAW’s Settles, in his statement tonight, said Ford hourly employees had concluded the tentative accord was in their interest.
“The Ford workers voting early on in the process were voting on emotion, but workers in plants with voting later in the process had a chance to learn everything about the agreement and understood how much their votes counted,” Settles said in the e-mail.
Ford earned $9.28 billion in the past two calendar years after $30.1 billion in losses from 2006 through 2008. Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally’s 2010 compensation rose 48 percent to $26.5 million. Ford also awarded him more than $56 million in stock in March for leading the company’s turnaround.
“In early votes, you can vote your anger,” Shaiken said. “In later votes, you start asking, ’What are my options?’”
There’s an extremely interesting article in this week’s The Economist on Arab Women and the Arab awakening. It showcases women in Tunisia and Egypt.
Today Egypt’s women may work outside the home, go to school and university, and are free to vote and run in all elections. But women’s literacy stands at just 58%, and only 23% of workers are women. The country’s laws are a mixed bag. The constitution outlaws discrimination on the grounds of sex, but women are entitled to inherit only half as much as men. Husbands may divorce their wives in moments in front of a civil servant, but women endure lengthy court proceedings to do the same. A woman who remarries loses the right to custody of her children.
The condition of Tunisia’s women, by contrast, is unmatched in the Arab world. That is mostly thanks to Habib Bourguiba, the founding father of the modern Tunisian state, who outlawed polygamy, granted women equal divorce rights and legalised abortion. Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia’s toppled dictator, continued Bourguiba’s work, expanding parental, divorce and custody rights for women and promoting their education and employment. In 1960 nearly half of women were married by the time they had turned 20. By 2004 only 3% of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 were married, divorced or widowed. The literacy rate for women in Tunisia is now over 70%, though only 27% of the labour force is female. Women make up nearly two-thirds of university students, compared with two-fifths in Egypt.
I’d like to give a shout out to Hillary Supporter and blogger StacyX who has had an medical emergency and will be giving up blogging for awhile. You may want to go leave a nice get well note for her!
So, that should get us started this morning! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?