“On Friday, August 3, 2012, the United States Postal Service experienced its first-ever default on a Congressionally-mandated payment of $5.5 billion for the retirement benefits of future employees.
Although USPS is claiming that, for now, the default will have “no material effect” on the operation of the Post Office and that the agency will continue to deliver mail and pay employees, the fact is that this financial quandary has raised new questions regarding just how long the agency will be able to operate.
After all, the USPS is expected to default on the second half of this payment – another $5.6 billion – in September.
Congress is now debating what to do about the default and the question of how or if the USPS will continue to function in the future. FOX News reports that;”
While the Senate passed a bill in April that provides an $11 billion cash infusion to help the mail agency avert a default, it would also delay many of the planned postal cuts for another year or two. The House remains stalled over a measure that allows for the aggressive cuts the Postal Service prefers, in large part due to concerns among rural lawmakers over cutbacks in their communities.
The Postal Service originally sought to close low-revenue post offices in rural areas to save money, but after public opposition it agreed to keep 13,000 open with shorter operating hours. The Postal Service also is delaying the closing of many mail processing centers, originally set to begin this spring. The estimated annual savings of $2.1 billion won’t be realized until the full cuts are completed in late 2014.
Senate Democrats have urged the House to act quickly so that the two chambers can iron out the differences between their two bills. The House, though, is not expected to act until September or later.
Via Alt Market
“High-fructose corn syrup, an extremely cheap, processed, and easily produced alternative to sugar, has been deemed ‘safe’ by the Food and Drug Administration since 1976. For decades, corn has been converted into high-fructose corn syrup for companies to use in their products at an extremely low cost, but it wasn’t so long ago that the dangers of this sugar alternative and food preservative have been recognized. Below you can view an infographic outlining the many dangers of high-fructose corn syrup, and how the production of corn syrup in general has made America FAT.
Presence of Corn and How There is So Much of It
Not many individuals would be surprised to hear that corn is the most widely planted cereal crop, with nearly 163 million hectares of land area being used for cultivation. Think the state of New York doubled in size for dedication to corn. And what do these corn fields output? 316 million metric tons were produced between 2011 and 2012 – nearly 6x that of wheat and 20x that of cotton.
Frighteningly, much of this corn isn’t even made to eat, as it actually isn’t edible.
The commodity is often produced with government backing for one primary reason – to be processed. The corn is simply a raw material meant to be transformed into the harmful ingredients we’ve come to consume so often today. It requires 3.2 pounds of corn to create 1 pound of high-fructose corns syrup. So it isn’t surprising that 25 million metric tons, about 8.2%, of corn was turned into HFCS between 2011-12, yielding 8 million metric tons of HFCS.”
Via Activist Post
“A solicitation placed today at the Government marketplace shows that the Department of Homeland Security, via the Transportation Safety Administration has requested 700 pounds of High Density Ammonium Nitrate and 700 pounds of A-5 Flake RDX, with a delivery date by 31 August, 2012. That is less than 4 days before the start of the Democratic National Convention.
Why would the DHS/TSA order such material? From their Statement of Work:
Name of Requisitioning Office: National Canine Program (NCP)/ Canine Explosives Section (CES)
SECTION II: Purpose
Scope of the Product, Service, or Outcome:
The CES requires the 700 pounds of High Density Ammonium Nitrate and 700 pounds of A-5 Flake RDX to provide Canine Explosive Training Aids (CETAs) to NCP participants. The supplier must be able to meet the exact requirements by August 31st, 2012. Substitutions for this product are not acceptable
SECTION III: Background
The CES is required to provide NCP participants with CETAs. The CES has selected to use High Density Ammonium Nitrate and A-5 Flake RDX as it will provide NCP participants with a more realistic training aid and compliment the current aids provided.
This all comes on the heels of a solicitation for sheet style high powered plastic explosives that we reported on earlier in the week.”
Via Activist Post
“The US Senate is currently debating a dangerous bill that, if passed, would have broad consequences for press freedom and the public’s right to know. EFF asks senators to stand up for government transparency and the First Amendment and vote it down.
The bill’s provisions, buried in the annual Intelligence Authorization Act, are intended to stop leaks of classified information to reporters—a premise worrying in itself—but it is written so sloppily it will also severely impair government transparency and prevent the media from reporting on national security issues.
The problems with this bill are extensive and severe. As the New York Times pointed out in an unusually forceful editorial last Friday, it has been “drafted in secret without public hearings” and bars most government employees from giving press background briefings, even if the information is unclassified—vital for media organizations when reporting on complex issues. Another provision prohibits officials from writing op-eds or appearing on television, again, even if the information is unclassified—a clear prohibition on protected speech.”
Via Activist Post
“How in the world is someone supposed to actually prepare for an economic collapse? What should you do with your money? How can you make sure that your family is going to be okay? How can you prepare if your resources are extremely limited? These are the kinds of questions people ask me all the time. Once people understand that the economy has been collapsing and will continue to collapse, then the next step for most of them is that they want to get prepared for the storm that is coming. So where should someone get started? Well, the truth is that no two people are facing the exact same set of circumstances, so preparation is going to look different for each individual. But there are certain core principles that we can all benefit from. For example, when a financial storm is coming that is not the time to be blowing thousands of dollars on vacations and new toys. You would be surprised at how many people there are that claim that they have no extra money in their budgets and yet somehow have plenty of money to run down to Wal-Mart and buy a big stack of DVDs. When times are difficult, each hard-earned dollar becomes much more precious, and we all need to start getting into the habit of making the most out of our limited resources. The seemingly endless prosperity that we have all been enjoying for decades is coming to an end, and most of us have absolutely no experience on how to deal with truly hard times. If you are under the age of 60, it might be a really good idea to read a book or two on what conditions were like during the Great Depression of the 1930s. There is a lot that we can learn from our own history.”
Recall that back in January IMF head Christine Lagarde said she thought it was possible for the eurozone to avoid a recession.
On January 9th, my take was Dimwit Comment of the Day: Christine Lagarde, IMF Director says “Europe May Avoid a Recession This Year”.
Even those waiting for two quarters of negative growth cannot hide the obvious: Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, and France are all in recession. Germany is headed there.
The recession in Europe is about to get much worse because of preposterous tax hikes nearly everywhere, coupled with inane policy moves in France, notably Hollande About to Wreck France With Economically Insane Proposal: “Make Layoffs So Expensive For Companies That It’s Not Worth It”
“Immigrants lag behind native-born Americans on most measures of economic well-being — even those who have been in the U.S. the longest, according to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies, which argues that full assimilation is a more complex task than overcoming language or cultural differences.
The study, which covers all immigrants, legal and illegal, and their U.S.-born children younger than 18, found that immigrants tend to make economic progress by most measures the longer they live in the U.S. but lag well behind native-born Americans on factors such as poverty, health insurance coverage and homeownership.
The study, based on 2010 and 2011 census data, found that 43 percent of immigrants who have been in the U.S. at least 20 years were using welfare benefits, a rate that is nearly twice as high as native-born Americans and nearly 50 percent higher than recent immigrants.
The report was released at a time when both major presidential candidates have backed policies that would make it easier to immigrate legally and would boost the numbers of people coming to the U.S.
Steven A. Camarota, the center’s research director and author of the 96-page study, said it shows that questions about the pros and cons of immigration extend well beyond the sheer numbers and touch on the broader consequences of assimilating a population defined by tougher socioeconomic challenges.”
Via Washington Times
“A new chart set to be released later today by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee details a startling statistic: “Over 100 Million People in U.S. Now Receiving Some Form Of Federal Welfare.”"
“”The federal government administers nearly 80 different overlapping federal means-tested welfare programs,” the Senate Budget Committee notes. However, the committee states, the figures used in the chart do not include those who are only benefiting from Social Security and/or Medicare.
Food stamps and Medicaid make up a large–and growing–chunk of the more than 100 million recipients. “Among the major means tested welfare programs, since 2000 Medicaid has increased from 34 million people to 54 million in 2011 and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) from 17 million to 45 million in 2011,” says the Senate Budget Committee. “Spending on food stamps alone is projected to reach $800 billion over the next decade.”"