As if the United States did not have enough issues with OPEC already, news reports reveal that there may be more cause for concern. According to the British publication the Guardian, Rostam Ghasemi will be the new president of OPEC. Ghasemi is a commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard, who has been sanctioned by the United States, European Union, and Australia, and has had his assets blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury. Iran took control of OPEC last October after 36 years under a rotating system, and some contend that with Ghasemi holding the position as president, the Revolutionary Guard will become more influential.  
Following in the footsteps of other European nations, an Italian parliamentary commission has approved a preliminary draft that bans women from wearing veils that cover their faces in public. According to the Associated Press, the ban will prohibit women from wearing burqas, naqibs, or any other article of clothing that covers their faces. It relies upon a law that is already in place, which mandates that no one can wear face-covering items in public places for security reasons. The AP reports, Women who violate the ban would face fines of €100 to €300, while third parties who force women to cover their faces in public would be fined €30,000 ($43,000) and face up to 12 months in jail.
It appears that Republicans and Democrats, Congress and the White House, have arrived at agreement on the debt ceiling. To sum it all up: the debt ceiling will be raised (shocker there) and Armageddon will be averted! Both Republicans and Democrats are claiming victory for their respective sides.   All of this was more than just a bit predictable. Republicans swore that they would not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats in turn swore not to raise taxes. Presumably, then, Republicans believed that we could afford not to raise the debt ceiling, that the alternative to not doing so, though perhaps not all that pleasant, would nevertheless be tolerable. At the same time, they continually told us that unless they agreed to raise the debt ceiling, world-wide economic catastrophe would ensue. So, the debt ceiling would have to be raised.     
A federal Judge in Ohio ruled on Monday that a former Democratic Congressman is permitted to proceed with a lawsuit against a pro-life group that he claims defamed him during his campaign. Analysts say the case may test the bounds of free speech. According to former Rep. Steve Driehaus, the Susan B. Anthony List contributed to his election loss because they “disseminated lies” about him regarding his record on abortion issues. He claims they caused him “reputational” and “economic” harm. Driehaus’ complaint focuses on statements and advertisements that argued Driehaus was not a pro-life lawmaker, since he voted for taxpayer-funded abortion as part of the healthcare overhaul.
Mexican trucks may begin hauling freight throughout the United States by the end of this month or early September under a bilateral trade agreement that resolves a long-standing trade dispute, but not the controversy over driving goods across the U.S.-Mexican border.   Under the pilot program, announced last month by the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 900 Mexican trucks will be hauling goods throughout the United States within the next three years. USA Today reported Wednesday that the pact continues to draw fire in the United States from the nation's largest transportation union, a national association of independent truckers, and some members of Congress. "We think it's unsafe, unfair and wrong for America," Jim Hoffa, president of the Teamsters union, told the nationwide daily. "It's a danger to highway safety. ... It will cost thousands of trucking and warehouse jobs."
As GM share prices plunge so do Chevy Volt sales, according to the latest auto sales figures. Throughout July, a whopping 125 Chevy Volts were sold, making the seemingly low 281 units sold in February a groundbreaking month. GM spokeswoman Michelle Bunker attributed the fallback to "supply constraints," alleging that GM was "virtually sold out" and supply was down nationwide. But Mark Modica, associate fellow at the National Legal and Policy Center, confirmed Bunker’s assertion was false, as he wrote on FoxNews.com:
Undoubtedly it was just an oversight on Thomas Jefferson’s part when he wrote that man’s unalienable rights include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” — but not free cellphones. True, the telephone hadn’t even been invented in 1776, but surely the Sage of Monticello could have included a right to any and all means of communication. How can one be expected to pursue happiness without it? To the cheers of those already getting the proverbial free lunch, the federal government, ever eager to expand the category of “rights” in pursuit of more power, has stepped into the breach. “People receiving government support such as Medicaid or food stamps,” writes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, are now also eligible to receive cellphone service at others’ expense.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's campaign for President announced that Romney has a committee of 63 lawyers advising his campaign August 2, and that list includes Bush administration torture lawyer Steven Bradbury. Bradbury, the Deputy Attorney General who approved the Bush administration torture policy written by John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee, is also known for telling congressional investigators, "The President is always right." "Our nation needs a Congress and an Executive branch that are cognizant of the bounds of their powers," Mitt Romney wrote in an August 2 statement announcing the advisory committee. But with Bradbury on the advisory committee, there would be no bounds to executive power.
Moody’s announcement on Tuesday that it would retain its AAA rating of U.S. government sovereign debt as a result of the debt-limit agreement came with a warning: The government must rein in spending or risk a downgrade anyway. The deal “virtually eliminated the risk of [a] default,” but the agency warned that “Should the new mechanism put in place by the Budget Control Act prove ineffective, this could affect the rating negatively.” Moody’s added that it wanted to see the United States lower its debt-to-GDP ratio, now approaching 100 percent, to around 73 percent by 2015, and then gradually move the ratio lower. Credit rating agencies like Moody’s issue opinions as to the credit worthiness of debt issued by various entities including governments, with 'credit worthiness” being defined as the ability to pay interest on and ultimately pay back the debt. Those ratings directly affect the interest rates offered in the issuance of that debt, and changes in a credit rating will impact the market value of the debt before it is retired.
While discussing socialism on a talk show recently, I was confronted with the question: If “capitalism” is so great, why has it failed? Of course, ever since our financial crisis hit, this query has become all too common. Now, after informing the host that I avoid the word “capitalism” — as it was originated by a communist — and instead prefer “Natural Economy,” I stated the obvious: Blaming our problems on the Natural Economy is like blaming airplane crashes on auto design. After all, there is a reason why Rogers Holdings CEO Jim Rogers said in 2008 that the United States was now “more communist than China.” With thousands of laws, regulations, and mandates and a multitude of bureaucracies that stifle the private sector, our system can hardly be called a Natural Economy. But more on that later. This issue is better illuminated by examining a truth hiding in plain sight.
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