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Dig a little deeper, though, and Citi’s stress-test results look more like an F than the B+ the bank seemed to get. Among the 19 banks the government probed, Citi was found to have the lowest common capital ratio, which the government said was a key measure to protect against insolvency. What’s more, Citi also got credit for a capital conversion it has yet to complete. Strip that out, and the amount of capital Citi needs balloons to nearly $63 billion, more than any of the other banks tested. –“Inside Citi’s Stress Test: More like an F than a B+,” Stephen Gandel, Time (via)
The [Washington] Post argued that the bondholders are supposed to have a preferred position in the event of bankruptcy compared to workers’ claim for retirement health benefits. This is true under bankruptcy law. However, the factor that has apparently escaped the Post’s attention is that the government is giving money to Chrysler and General Motors. Bankruptcy law does not require the federal government to hand Chrysler and General Motors a penny. It is doing so as a matter of public policy. There are two policy goals that the government hopes to advance with its intervention. First, to try to keep jobs in these firms and their suppliers at a time when the economy is shedding jobs at an incredibly rapid rate. Second to protect the retirement health benefits of workers. The Post openly shows contempt for ordinary workers (as opposed to bankers), but President Obama was elected in large part because he promised to use the government’s power to advance their interests. One of these interests is protecting the retirement health care benefits for which they worked– just as the government protects the pensions for which they worked. –“Post Misrepresents Situation of Creditors in Chrysler/GM Bankruptcy,” Dean Baker, The American Prospect
American workers afraid to take vacations; Bid $15,500 for an unpaid internship at the Huffington Post; Recession sing-along (via); The new Blackwater/Xe logo; Jarvis Cocker reviews pop music with his sons
“United States Border Patrol! Put your hands up!” screams one in a voice cracking with adolescent determination as the suspect is subdued. It is all quite a step up from the square knot. The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence– an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters. –“Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More,” Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”