Libby's Stew: Yellen, Afghan Kids, Charter Fraud
“Senate confirms Janet Yellen as Fed Chair” by Andre Damon
Andre Damon reports that the U.S. Senate confirmed Janet Yellen as the new Fed chairperson Monday evening. According to Damon, this forecasts that the Fed will continue to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities and US Treasury Bonds from banks thus pumping up a new stock market bubble, obscenely expanding corporate profits along with the wallets of the already SUPER rich. (Damon claims the wealth of US billionaires has doubled since the 2009 crash.)
The U.S. Senate had been scheduled also to deal with the issue of lost jobless benefits for 1.3 million American citizens, but because of cold weather and that the priority in the minds of the Senators was enabling the banksters over desperate and jobless U.S. citizens, the benefits issue was postponed.
Re Yellen, Senate Dems like Sherrod Brown gushed about certain upcoming recovery and growth under her Bernanke-status-quo, quantitative-easing-revealed intentions (this Bernanke-like assessment from 60% of three dozen economists polled by WSJ). It took Republican Sen. Charles Grassley to approach the depressing obvious, “While the stock market has become addicted to easy money, the benefit of Main Street has become questionable at best.”
Starting on January 18th, the asset purchases by the Fed will “taper” from $85 billion a month to $75 billion and near-zero interest rates for banks will be guaranteed for yet another year. Not exactly tough love to the monsters who crashed our economy.
“Acute child malnutrition has doubled in Afghanistan since 2012” by Mark Church
According to Mark Church citing statistics from the NYT, chronic, long-term children malnutrition cases have increased by 50% in the past year in Afghanistan!!!
Two diseases from lack of protein have gripped thousands and thousands of Afghan children, kwashiorkor and marasmus.
Kwashiorkor causes a distended belly, skin problems, weakened immunity. Marasmus leaves children with wasting fat and muscle tissue, leaving their faces and bodies sagging and aged-looking. The Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in Kabul records 100 new cases of severe malnutrition of children each month with 5-10 deaths per month. Its pediatric ward is so over-crowded there are two or three children per bed. Other poorer hospitals are reporting 200 cases of seriously malnourished children now per month.
UNICEF and Afghanistan’s office of ministry refuse to declare an official emergency, since they calculate 7% not 10% of the children of Afghanistan is impacted. But the worst cases of malnutrition are unsurprisingly in regions of US military operations against the Taliban where the percentage of children suffering has been estimated at a whopping 29.5% -- with 1 million children under 5 malnourished.
The NYT article explains that if Afghan women breast-fed their babies more than feeding them milk-powder and dirty water, this crisis would not be so severe. Since only 25% of the Afghan population has access to clean drinking water, asserts Damon, many mothers are physically “impaired” themselves and can't breast-feed.
Church also reveals 36% of the population of Afghanistan lives under the official poverty line. The average daily wage is $1 per day.
An International Labor Organization report in 2012 found that half of the Afghan population did not have enough to eat and 18% of children were working. Employment is subsistence level and casual. Soon service jobs will be drastically reduced for Afghans from the planned partial US-NATO withdrawal.
There have been BILLIONS of aid dollars extended to Afghanistan -- $15.7 billion in 2012 alone -- but thanks to the incompetent and/or uncommitted-to-humanity oversight of the U.S. and NATO, most of that money has been “siphoned off” for self-aggrandizement by President Hamid Karzai and members of his corrupt regime. Damon reports the estimate is that 90 cents out of every dollar of foreign aid does not reach ordinary Afghans. Another destination of aid money goes to overly high salaries of the foreign administrative staff responsible for distributing the aid money.
Afghan children and their families lack the basics for sustaining life -- food, clean water and medical care. This is what the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan beginning in 2001 -- to supposedly fight Taliban terrorism and bring the Afghan population “freedom and prosperity” -- has wrought.
Too bad the NYT article, Mr. Church points out, seems disingenuously “mystified” over the degree of this current, profound, social and economic crisis in Afghanistan. It certainly is clear to the rest of us as well as, I am sure, the desperate Afghans.
“DC charter school officials charged with funneling millions to personal accounts” by Nick Barrickman
The attorney general of Washington, D.C. has launched a lawsuit and criminal investigation against officials of Options Public Charter School, the city’s oldest charter school. The investigation is for Medicaid fraud of more than $3 million involving two shell corporations owned by the school officials.
The school officials are accused of grossly inflating Medicaid costs for the school’s 400 enrolled students. They charged exorbitant fees by declaring many students disabled who were not. Between 2012-2013 the school only grew by 15% but the number of students declared disabled jumped 42%.
According to Barrickman, a disabled child is compensated $28,284 on top of the standard cost of $9000 per student.
Even back in 2008, investigators found there were $200 million worth of “contractual conflicts of interests within the city’s charter school system” asserts Barrickman.
This scenario is not unique to the DC charter school. The Obama administration’s encouragement and enabling of private business opportunists to sink their collective teeth into our national public school system has guaranteed such rampant, economic criminality. This shameless and scandalous fraud is only the tip of the iceberg thanks to the faux-”reformation” of our national educational system with more and more for-profit, corporate-contracted management.
Race to the top? I don’t think so.