Whew! News was breaking out all over today. Here are some of the items that caught my eye. Please add others you saw in “Comments”.
❖Iceland shines. “While much of Europe wallows in recession, the economy of this volcanic island in the mid Atlantic is growing at a clip that has surprised many people, thanks to a currency fall – in which the crown lost almost half its value to the euro – an export and tourism boom as well as growing consumer confidence.” It’s anticipated Iceland’s GDP will grow at 2.6% this year, better even than Sweden. Iceland did have to impose some austerity measures, but they were carefully phased in. Huge street protests that rocked Iceland during the crisis no doubt spurred a more rational, less painful approach to resolving the country’s fiscal crisis.
❖Heading into the May 6th elections in Greece, “the young leader [Alexis Tsipras] of the Left Coalition party is urging Greeks to vote out austerity – and the two pro-bailout parties imposing it – arguing Europe cannot afford to kick Greece out of the monetary union.” “The rise of anti-bailout parties ” . . . is being watched with nervousness by European leaders and the IMF . . ..” By no means does this indicate smooth sailing ahead, though, as the Greek far-right has become quite active leading up to the elections “with blunt promises to ‘clean up’ the country”.
❖Headlines proclaim that Spain entered a recession in the 1st quarter of 2012. This followed on the heels of Standard & Poor’s downgrade late last week, and a record unemployment rate moving toward 25%. Experts’ prognostications are gloomy, and opposition to the Austerity measures is mounting, with large street protests.
❖The International Labour Organization has raised the alarm about global unemployment, citing austerity measures and warning that slow economic growth and expanding numbers of people reaching employment age are major factors in an increasing crisis.
❖Student protests in Quebec over proposed increases in student fees have become so effective that Premier Charest has announced the Liberal Party of Quebec will hold its annual convention in Victoriaville, about 105 miles east of Montreal, where the meeting was originally scheduled to be held.
❖YPF, the Argentine oil firm, intends to “keep delivering liquefied natural gas (LNG) to customers” even though the Spanish firm, Repsol, cancelled such deliveries. Of course, Repsol no longer owns the controlling interest in YPF, Argentina having expropriated 51% its shares, thus “wiping out Repsol’s 57.4% majority stake.”
❖In Mexico, journalist Regina Martinez, who had covered crime for a weekly news magazine for ten years, “was found in her home in Xalapa on Saturday, apparently beaten and strangled to death.” She’s one of “more than 40 journalists killed or disappeared since President Felipe Calderon took office.”
❖And the search continues for French journalist Romeo Langlois, who has been missing since Saturday after FARC engaged Colombian soldiers who were attempting to destroy a cocaine lab. Apparently Langlois, who was wounded in the arm from gunfire, was taken prisoner by FARC and disappeared with them back into the jungle.
❖Apologies–that’s it for this? In 2000, 39 fishermen in Colombia’s Magdalena region were gunned down by 60 far-right paramilitaries. Colombia’s army delayed entering the towns where the killings occurred for four days after the killings had begun. Today, a Colombian court ordered the country’s security forces to apologize for failing to halt the executions. The paramilitary leader held responsible for the murders, btw, was sentenced to 47 years in prison but hasn’t spent a single day there since he was “extradited in 2008 to face drug charges in the U.S.” Ah, yes, the War on Drugs.
❖We will reclaim our rights. Last year in TX, Republicans passed a law which cut off state funds to organizations “affiliated with abortion providers”. In response, eight Planned Parenthood clinics that don’t provide abortions sued. And today, a federal judge ruled “there is sufficient evidence that [the] law banning Planned Parenthood from the [TX Women's Health Program] is unconstitutional [and he] imposed an injunction against enforcing it until he can hear full arguments.”
❖And it’s happening in OK, too! Today the OK Supreme Court “ruled that an inititiative petition that would grant ‘personhood’ rights to human embryos is unconstitutional.”
❖This is a goody. After he accused the Girl Scouts of being a radical organization promoting teh “homosexual lifestyle” back in February, Indiana state Rep. Bob Morris (Republican–as though anyone couldn’t guess) has received one–count ‘em 1–campaign donation. Way to go, Bob; please keep up the good work.
❖Imagine: electricity and clean water too–both from a single source! Eole Water of France is currently testing turbines that not only produce electricity, but also “up to 1,000 liters of clean drinking water per day” as well. The company is first targeting areas in Africa, Latin America and Indonesia where water is scarce.
❖A study of Emergency Room treatment of children with abdominal pain has yielded disturbing results. Not only were black and Hispanic children in the ER for longer periods of time than white children, but “Black children were 39 percent less likely to receive pain medications than white children”. More research is needed to discover the causes of these discrepancies–including whether black children don’t complain as much because their parents don’t (as documented in various earlier studies).
❖Wisconsin’s beleaguered Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign headquarters is in an undisclosed location. Not only that, but his schedule is not posted, fundraisers not announced, his appearances at out-of-state events not published and his main campaign office is a PO box. All this secrecy is necessary, you see, because of “some of the ridiculousness of the absurd protestors.” The article didn’t mention whether Walker also has a man-sized safe.
❖Oh, those teasin’ tea-partiers! “[S]wept into Congress on a wave of anger over government-funded bailouts of banks”, Tea-Partiers have since collected mucho bucks from those same bailed-out banks. JP Morgan, BofA, Citi, Wells Fargo and, of course, Goldman Sachs “have distributed $169,499 through March 31 to the campaign coffers of the 10 freshman Tea Party-backed lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee . . ..”
❖At last, one of our oldest (and most distant) relatives has been recognized and properly enshrined on the Tree of Life.