A few weeks ago, I flagged reports of a global grain shortage--caused among other things by persistent droughts in Australia and elsewhere. The wheat shortage was causing political problems in Pakistan. (When people can't afford bread, they tend to get pissed off.) Now I see that rice is suddenly a hot commodity too, it's price just went up 50 percent in two weeks.
Today's Washington Post has a feature on the riots in D.C. that followed Martin Luther King's assassination. (A thousand people were injured in the violence, three were killed.) The feature looks at what has and hasn't changed in the city since the riots. One factoid caught caught my eye:
In 2006, the average white resident of D.C. earned nearly $65,000 annually, more than double the $27,141 (in constant dollars) they earned in 1968. Meanwhile, the median African-American resident's income in 2006 was $20,904--barely a bump up from the $18,410 (in constant dollars) earned in 40 years ago.
In Lebanon, in September 1983, the U.S. lent direct support to what it assumed was a national institution, the Lebanese Army, in the battle at Souk el-Gharb. By doing so, it became, in the eyes of the rest of the Lebanese population, just another militia. The U.S. history in Iraq is more complicated, obviously, but what's happening now is the U.S. is throwing our lot in with ISCI in the upcoming elections.
The amazing thing is just how obviously folly is it that the U.S. is intervening on behalf of one faction, and yet it's still happening. Anyway, Abu Muqawama's reference to Lebanon strikes me as just right. In so far as people in the U.S. remember the U.S.'s intervention in Lebanon, I'm sure we remember first the bombing of the Marines barracks and then, maybe, that the Marines were there as part of a peacekeeping mission. Except that's not how Lebanese remember it. They remember something closer to the reality, namely that the U.S. took sides. And that operation didn't end particularly well.
[Fabulous Lakers center] Andrew Bynum began running on a treadmill Tuesday, another step in his comeback from a knee injury that has sidelined him more than eight weeks.
Bynum ran for 20 minutes on an "anti-gravity" treadmill that allowed him to essentially decrease his weight via an air-pressure chamber that enveloped his lower body and reduced his impact on the treadmill.