Saturday, October 22, 2022

BROS and Iraq

As you know Pier 1 Imports was supposed to make a big donation but they went bankrupt and have been bought by the Taliban.

That's from BROSBilly Eichner's Bobby and other members of the board of the country's first LGBTQ+ museum are meeting to discuss how to meet their funding goal.  It's a very funny movie and it's now available for rent or purchase on streaming platforms.

Bobby can't fall in love because of trust issues and Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) can't fall in love because he can't do anything that would make him happy -- he's locked into a rigid role he feels others want him to play which is why he ends up in a career he hates.  The two meet at a club.  Aaron's listened to Bobby's podcast.  Bobby asks Aaron what he does.

Aaron: For work?  I do probate law.  I'm an estate planner.  Basically, I write people's wills.

Bobby: Do you like it?

Aaron: Oh, sure.  When I was a kid, the first thing I would think when I met someone is: Who's that person going to leave their s**t to when they die?  I really wanted to be part of the legal logistics of that.

We later see Aaron at work in the office, sitting with a very crabby elderly man, Mr. Funk, who needs to adjust his will.

Mr. Funk: I just need to figure out where my money is going.

Aaron: Okay, do you have a partner or spouse?

Mr. Funk: No and no.

Aaron: Children?

Mr. Funk: No.

Aaron: Family member?

Mr. Funk: No.

Aaron: Close friend.

Mr. Funk: Not anymore.

Aaron:  Okay.  Well, uh, sometimes it helps to close your eyes and think about who means the most to you in the world.

Mr. Funk closes his eyes.  Then he opens them.

Aaron: Who is it?

Mr. Funk: Cher.

Aaron: Okay.  So you want to leave $100,000 to . . . to Cher?  Do you really think she needs it?

Mr. Funk:  She has a huge staff.

That film really makes me laugh.  It's a great comedy, a great film.  Billy wrote an amazing screenplay and it's a great movie.  Luke and Billy are great in it.

Someone said in an e-mail that I hadn't praised Luke.  I have, he's wonderful in it.  He should be nominated for his performance.  I know Luke so if he's not gotten his due here it's because he's a friend.  I don't know Billy, I've never even met Billy.  I explained -- in the gina & krista round-robin -- that my friends get less credit then they deserve up here.  I explained that I made a point to praise Luke in part because a friend of mine -- a singer -- told me she was kind of hurt that I seemed to promote every singer but her.  

I love her work but until she said that?  I really (a) hadn't thought it might give the wrong impression and (b) really didn't think she needed the plug from this site.  

Luke does an amazing job, he hits all the notes needed.  It's a tricky part and if you've seen a bad romantic comedy, you know how easy it is for one actor to kill a movie and how hard it can be to play a lead without overdoing it or underwhelming.  Luke is perfect.  

If you doubt me on that, that's another reason to go stream the movie.

Now to Iraq . . .


Mohammed Shia al-Sudani is Iraq's prime minister-designate who is currently attempting to form a government.  David Sadler (GLOBE ECHO) reports:

The Iraqi Prime Minister-designate, Muhammad Shia Al-Sudani, said yesterday that the political blocs agreed to put forward their candidates to form the new government, leaving the matter of selection to the prime minister.

Al-Sudani said in a press statement distributed yesterday morning, “We affirm that the agreement between the political blocs that make up the coordination framework includes giving each bloc the opportunity to present its candidates to all ministries, and the matter of choosing the candidates is left to the person of the designated prime minister.”

He added that the criteria for naming a candidate to fill the ministerial portfolio are based on “efficiency, integrity and ability to manage the ministry, according to the electoral weights of each bloc.”

There are many problems that the new government will face when formed.  Salman Zidane (AL-MONITOR) reports:

The Iraqi parliament this month is discussing a bill to find solutions to its expanding slum areas. However, several obstacles could hinder this bill from being passed into law amid an ongoing social and political crisis.

Iraq has more than 5,000 slum areas, containing more than half a million housing units, inhabited by approximately 3.5 million people. Most of these slum areas were established with the emergence of the current political regime in 2003.

The search for a solution started in 2014, member of parliament Alia Nassif told Al-Monitor, with a plan to lease the land of informal settlements to their impoverished residents for a small fee. The slum areas lack public services such as paved streets, schools, water, electricity, and other basic needs, she said, and residents “are unable to register their children or complete certain formalities at government institutions.”

Iraq's current housing crisis has driven the price of a square meter in commercial centers in Baghdad up to $20,000, one real estate broker told Euronews, against $600 in the outskirts of cities.

Nassif indicated that parliament will amend the 2014 bill and is seeking to help the dwellers acquire the lands where they are living. But if a plot of land was initially classified as industrial or commercial, it cannot be acquired. 

The Iraqi government had proposed a fund to address the problem, to be financed by the reduced rents paid by the residents of these slums, the general budget and loans. The fund would secure basic services in these neighborhoods, such as roads, sewage, water, schools, police stations, healthcare and other services. 

As they wait to see if Mohammed can form a government, Iraq got a little bit of relief, "A light rain fell on parts of Iraq on Friday, October 21, bringing some relief to a region experiencing declining rainfall and drought in recent years."

The following sites updated:

  • Isaiah invites you to take a moment to enjoy THE PEW

    Isaiah's took the "House Reject, House Mess and House Dunce" and put them all on their own show -- he's kind of a Barbara Walters of the comic set.  So sit back and take a moment to enjoy THE PEW.

    "Take A Moment To Enjoy The PEW

    the pew

    "Enjoy THE PEW"  



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    People Worldwide Cry Foul on Rising Debts


    OZY    A Modern Media CompanyShare This Sh*t          October 21, 2022
    The drop


    Should developing nations have a seat at the table when it comes to designing debt relief? Should students?

    Sponsored by Cariuma


    Tatira Zwinoira from Harare, Zimbabwe



    Debtors Demand New Rules

    As debtor-rights groups from the U.S. to Asia demand relief on what they see as exploitative practices by creditors, the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) has called for the continent to have a role in drafting new global financial rules.

    We have this tagline, ‘Africa the Rule Maker, not the Rule Taker,’ and therefore we need to be at the table when global rules on financial architecture decisions are being made...

     - Jason Braganza, AFRODAD executive director   


    “We have this tagline, ‘Africa the Rule Maker, not the Rule Taker,’ and therefore we need to be at the table when global rules on financial architecture decisions are being made and being designed,” said Jason Braganza, AFRODAD executive director, last week in Washington, D.C., at the IMF-World Bank annual meetings.

    A new analysis by the Britain-based activist group, Debt Justice, found that the relative strengthening of the U.S. dollar will increase the burden of foreign debt repayments by 14% for lower-income nations, while interest rates on new loans taken by low-income countries will increase by 5.7 percentage points — nearly triple the rate increase for borrowers in the United States.

    Braganza’s remarks come as many African debt organizations push for African states to have a higher voting quota with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank — a fundamental reform in the international financial and debt architecture. The IMF revealed last week that public debt amounts to about 60% of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product, with 19 of the region’s 35 low-income nations currently facing debt distress or the risk of it.

    AFRODAD’s demand that African nations must help to shape the rules that govern their loans is part of a larger, international movement for debtor rights.

    “Millions of people around the world are caught in multiple crises of public health, economic recession and climate change. Mounting debts mean mounting debt service, resulting in cuts to budgets for healthcare, and education, decent housing and other essentials,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development, in a statement.

    Nacpil said many countries had already defaulted, or were at risk of default, even after years of debt servicing and meeting austerity demands by creditor nations, while sacrificing their own needs.

    “Governments should have changed their debt payment and borrowing policies and also demanded debt cancellation before they reached that point,” Nacpil said. She also noted that debt burdens have prevented many governments from addressing climate change.

    In the U.S., debt debates center on the $1.7 trillion in student loans collectively owed by 45 million individual borrowers — and whether it is advisable, or ethical, for the cost of higher education to effectively saddle graduates with debt that many are forced to repay over decades or the rest of their lives. In August, President Biden announced a new program of debt relief for qualifying borrowers of federal student loans.

    According to U.S. debt-abolition advocate Astra Taylor, “People who are in debt have to worry about making that next payment. It’s a source of anxiety and stress. It changes your psychology.”


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    Even Goldman Sachs Is Losing Value

    Goldman Sachs will combine its private wealth businesses and asset management into one entity, according to an announcement that comes after the investment bank reported a net earnings drop of 47%, to $2.93 billion, during the first six months of the year as compared to 2021. Goldman Sachs is one of the largest investment banks globally, with assets worth $1.6 trillion, and nearly $2.5 trillion under its management, as of June 30. (Sources: BloombergReutersThe Wall Street Journal)


    Meta Is Losing Value Too

    Meta Platforms Inc., formerly Facebook, has seen its share price decline by 60% nearly a year after it rebranded to focus on the virtual-reality world known as the metaverse. According to the tracking website Companies Market Cap, Meta has lost hundreds of billions of dollars after reaching a market capitalization of $1.07 trillion in August 2021, only to fall to a current value of around $340 billion. This is the result of the company’s user base declining in Western countries; although subscriber numbers grow globally, advertisers prefer to reach wealthy audiences. Forecasts for the company’s profits next year have declined by around 50%. (Sources: The EconomistThe Wall Street Journal)

    Meta Platforms Inc., formerly Facebook, has seen its share price decline by 60% nearly a year after it rebranded to focus on the virtual-reality world known as the metaverse.


    Under Water, Argentina to See Income Tax Relief

    Argentina’s Economy Minister Sergio Massa has raised the income tax-free threshold in a change that will take effect Nov. 1. Workers have seen inflation erode their monthly salaries, with the annualized inflation rate reaching 83% last month — heavily driven by the rise in staple food prices. Nationally, the average monthly minimum wage is around $487, while the cost of groceries for a family of four amounts to $1,193. Massa said in a radio interview that the new income tax-free threshold will be set at 330,000 pesos ($2,176). (Source: Reuters)


    Sneaker Season, Spooky Season

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    UK Will (Try to) Cap Household Energy Bills

    On Monday, the embattled U.K. government opened a new program to support major energy firms in delivering affordable services. The endeavor was first announced last month as part of Prime Minister Liz Truss’s plan to curb energy prices that have soared due to the Russia-Ukraine War. The plan would keep annual gas and electricity bills for a U.K. household at or below $2,230, with the Bank of England issuing a 100% guarantee to applicable energy firms. Such firms have three months to apply for participation in the program. (Sources: BloombergUK Treasury)


    Germany Doesn’t Want China to Control Key Seaport

    German security bosses have warned that shipping firm China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited could use a potential acquisition of one of the country’s three critical port terminals as political leverage. This warning comes amid plans by CCSCL to buy a stake in one of Germany’s three terminals at the Port of Hamburg. This port is Germany’s largest by volume and the third-busiest port in Europe. “We are very, very critical of the participation of China in critical infrastructure,” said Bruno Kahl, Germany’s head of the foreign intelligence service, at a parliamentary hearing. (Source: Reuters)



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    Japan Hit With Higher Prices, Weaker Currency

    The Bank of Japan is expected to raise its inflation projection for the current year to above 2.5% owing to a weakening yen and the soaring costs of importing crude oil, coal and liquefied natural gas due to the Russia-Ukraine War. The yen has lost 22% of its value this year relative to the dollar, making imports all the more costly. Masakazu Tokura, who heads Japan's largest business lobby group, told reporters on Monday that consumers and businesses alike are battling rising energy and food costs. (Source: Reuters)


    What role should debtor nations have in determining the rules of loan repayment? What about students?

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