Archive for the ‘government’ Category

US Government: ‘Eat More Pizza!’

February 17, 2014

US Government: 'Eat More Pizza!'

13 percent of Americans eat pizza each day (no, not the same 13 percent …). That’s a lot of people and lots of calories, saturated fat, and sodium, too.

And Uncle Sam helps. The USDA runs a “dairy checkoff program” though small assessments on milk sales to processors, raising hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The funds are turned over to Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI) to encourage public demand for dairy products. U.S. fluid milk consumption is down, but cheese eating is way up, and 25 percent of that cheese is melted on pizza.  DMI has a partnership with Domino’s Pizza, America’s 2nd largest retailer of pizza-like objects, and paid Domino’s $35 million over the past 3 years to develop and market cheesier pies.

Read about it here:

“How the U.S. government spends millions to get people to eat more pizza,” Brad Plumer, Washington Post blog

“USDA reports on pizza consumption and on dairy checkoff program initiatives to increase pizza demand,” Park Wilde, US Food Policy blog

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Canada Bans Marmite

January 25, 2014

Canada Bans Marmite

Canada has banned imports of Marmite – not because it’s made from British brewery waste, but because it’s artificially fortified with vitamins to back up dubious health claims, and food spreads in Canada aren’t allowed such fortification.

The stuff was imported by Brit Foods, a Canadian retailer specializing in British comestibles. The yeasty brown gunk is an iconic UK product, a cherished symbol of the Empire to which Canada once belonged. We have not been able to determine if the Marmite ban endangers Canada’s membership in the Commonwealth.

To avoid the appearance of favoritism in the upcoming independence referendum, Canada also banned imports of Scotland’s Irn-Bru, a ghastly orange-colored soft drink and symbol of modern Scottish identity. That color is supplied by Ponceau 4R, a pigment derived from coal tar which, unlike clubbing baby seals to death, is prohibited in the Great White North.

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Dr. King on the Roots of Economic Inequality

January 20, 2014

Dr. King on the Roots of Economic Eqality

Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) planned a Poor People’s Campaign for May 1968 to demand jobs, unemployment insurance, a fair minimum wage, affordable housing, and education for poor adults and children, an Economic Bill of Rights. The effort was to involve poor people of all races from all parts of the country, urban and rural, but the historical roots of racial economic disparity could not be ignored:

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Nebraska, Our Nation’s Capital

January 9, 2014

Nebraska, Our Nation's Capital

Nebraska Republican Ben Sasse is running for the U.S. Senate. He wants to move the Capital of the United States from the District of Columbia to Nebraska.

Welcome to it, ‘Huskers! Here’s what Nebraska gets:

  • No vote in Congress, but you’ll pay taxes to the IRS anyway
  • Any political pissant from elsewhere can stop local elected officials from spending Nebraska state tax funds the way Nebraskans want
  • Tax-exempt institutions — including foreign embassies and the Federal government itself — will crowd taxpaying businesses and residents off valuable real estate
  • Commuters from neighboring states will take all your state’s good jobs, snarl traffic, rip up your streets and then complain about the potholes — but they won’t pay a dime of Nebraska taxes on the money they earn in Nebraska
  • Main Street will be shut down for motorcades at unexpected, inconvenient moments
  • Bollards will clutter every sidewalk, metal detectors and uniformed guards will block office building doors

And you know what else Nebraska will get, Mr. Sasse? No U.S. Senators!

Like other Nebraskans, Tea Party-lovin’ Ben Sasse is just regular “work-a-day folks” — if work-a-day folks went to Harvard and Yale, worked at the Boston Consulting Group, served as a DC bureaucrat for G.W. Bush, and over-extended a small Lutheran college so much that its accreditation is threatened.

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Rob Ford: Run Robbie Run!

January 2, 2014

Rob Ford: Run Robbie Run!

Mayor Rob Ford, the man who put Toronto on the map for most Yanks, is running for re-election. Toronto’s self-described “best mayor” dropped off his nomination papers at city hall early this morning:

“My track record speaks for itself. If you want to get personal, that’s fine. I’m sticking to my record, and talk is cheap. You’re going to see action like you’ve never seen before.”

– “Rob Ford, promising ‘Ford more years,’ registers to run for reelection,” Daniel Dale, Toronto Star

More:

“After scandal-plagued 2013, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford bids for re-election,” Ann Hui, The Globe and Mail

– GIF via Maclean’s.

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US sells GM

December 10, 2013

US Sells GM

1953: GM President Charles Erwin Wilson tells the Senate Armed Services Committee “for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

2009: The United States Government takes 60 percent ownership of General Motors, 912 million shares.

2012: GM buys back 200 million shares of its own stock from the government for $5.5 billion; company execs are now allowed to use corporate jets again.

June 2013: The U.S. Treasury sells off 30 million shares in GM.

December 2013: The Federal government sells off its remaining shares in General Motors, leaving taxpayers with a net $10.5 billion loss on the total $49.5 billion bailout.  The Canadian government still owns $4.2 billion in GM preferred shares and the United Auto Workers union owns $5.4 billion in GM stock.

Related:

“With The Government Gone, GM Can Now Start Paying Its Execs Big Bucks,” Aaron Foley, Jalopnik

“New study estimates the effect on the U.S. economy of successful restructuring of General Motors” (press release), Center for Automotive Research

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Silvio Berlusconi Returns to Private Life

November 30, 2013

Silvio Berlusconi Returns to Private Life

The Italian Senate expelled billionaire septuagenarian, football team ownerBunga-Bunga Party host, one-time cruise ship crooner and disgraced 3-time former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from membership last week so he could spend more time with his attorneys and under-aged females. The proximate cause: Mr. Berlusconi’s recent tax fraud conviction. For the first time in two decades, the Italian Government is Berlusconi-free.

Private Citizen Berlusconi has problems. There are new charges that he and his lawyers paid off trial witnesses to his notorious “bunga bunga” sex parties. The 77-year- old’s 28-year-old showgirl girlfriend has appealed to that great champion of morally challenged billionaires, Pope Francis, to clear Silvio’s name.

Update:

“Berlusconi, The Perils of Not Knowing When to Say Goodbye,” Marcello Sorgi, La Stampa via Worldcrunch

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Image (“Berlusconi Seraglio, after Fernand Cormon”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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‘Obamacare Girl’ — Still Missing!

November 13, 2013

'Obamacare Girl' -- Still Missing!

The Lady of Obamacare fled from the Healthcare.gov webpage late last month and has not been seen since. She’s more than a stock photo now; she’s a meme, the “Mona Lisa of Health Care.” Paparazzi keep watch for”Adriana” in the corridors of power, at fashionable parties, “Cadillac” health plan spas, and in smart nightclubs, without result. Adriana, where art thou?

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Price of the Tea Party Tantrum

October 17, 2013

Price of the Tea Party Tantrum

The Tea Party Republicans in Congress shut down the United States Government for over two weeks. They did it to protest … something. In the end, it gained them … nothing. Federal employees will be paid retroactively, but government contractors and retailers serving public employees and their families had no business this month. Of course, the salaries of cranky congressmen continued uninterrupted.

The shutdown is over, at least for now, but what has this Republican hissy fit cost America? The total tab won’t be complete for another couple of months, but Standard & Poor’s puts the loss to the economy at $24 billion, $1.6 billion a day.

More:

“Gridlock Has Cost U.S. Billions, and the Meter Is Still Running,” Annie Lowery, Nathaniel Popper, and Nelson D. Schwartz, New York Times

“Was the Point Republicans Made in the Shutdown Worth the Price?’ Gerald F. Seib, Wall Street Journal

“What You Can Get For The Price Of A Shutdown,” Bryce Covert, Think Progress

“House Republicans Hold Hearing on Why Their Shutdown Shut Things Down,” Tim Murphy, Mother Jones

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Et Tu, Skype? Yipe.

October 16, 2013

Et Tu, Skype? Yipe.

“Skype is being investigated by Luxembourg’s data protection commissioner over concerns about its secret involvement with the US National Security Agency (NSA) spy programme Prism, the Guardian has learned.

The Microsoft-owned internet chat company could potentially face criminal and administrative sanctions, including a ban on passing users’ communications covertly to the US signals Intelligence agency.

Skype itself is headquartered in the European country, and could also be fined if an investigation concludes that the data sharing is found in violation of the country’s data-protection laws.”

– “Skype under investigation in Luxembourg over link to NSA,” Ryan Gallagher The Guardian

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Image (“The Miracle of Skype, after Stan Galli”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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