Good evening, Firepups!  Here’s a sample of the broad range of news items that were circulating out there today.  Feel free to add others that caught your eye and interest.

❖”Obama for America” has a web site feature devoted to “Romney Economics”.  Eleven slides chronicle the history of Romney and partners’ purchase of GST Steel in Kansas City, the changes they made, and the consequences.  “When the company eventually declared bankruptcy, workers were denied their full pensions and health insurance, and the federal government was forced to step in and bail out the pension fund.”  There’s an accompanying video, too.

❖Mysterious moves.  Ron Paul announced his campaign will no longer spend tons of money campaigning “in primaries in states that have not yet voted” when those states include KY (son Rand’s state), TX (Paul’s state), MT (where he won votes in 2008), and CA (where he “can pick up hundreds of thousands of protests [sic] votes”).  At the same time, his supporters “are engaged in an active–and increasingly contentious–effort [to] take over delegate slates in states that have already voted.  Paul said that the practice would continue . . . .”

❖By executive order, Gov. Lincoln Chafee has declared “that Rhode Island will recognize out-of-state same sex marriages”.    There is currently a bill proceeding through the legislature that would also grant CT same-sex couples married out-of-state the right to sue for divorce.

❖CO Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s efforts, including calling a special session of the legislature, to get same-sex couples equal rights as other married couples, met with strong Republican opposition and was defeated yesterday.  Protections in CO’s Civil Union bill would have included “letting partners make medical decisions for each other . . . [and] would enhance parental and inheritance rights.”

❖Oh, how the mighty are falling!  “Rebekah Brooks Charged In Phone-Hacking Scandal”.  And she’s not alone–her husband, an assistant of hers, her chauffeur and two security staff are also being charged.

❖It’s come to this.  Two lawsuits have been filed by drone strike victims against the Pakistani government for failure to protect them from the drones.  Victims want the government to declare the strikes as war crimes, and prosecute accordingly, and to appeal to the UN and the International Court of Justice for a halt to the strikes  And there’s another goal:  “We would like to know if Pakistan consents or has tacitly approved the drone strikes.  Or if they have an agreement with the U.S. government . . . ” about them, according to the attorney filing the suits.

❖It’s a first.  China’s government-owned Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) will be purchasing 80% “in the U.S. unit of Hong Kong-based Bank of East Asia Ltd., giving it ownership of 10 branches in California and three in New York.”  The Federal Reserve approved the sale once it received  the Department of Justice’s ok.  More from Bloomberg.

26 Italian banks have had their credit ratings cut by Moody’s.  10 were reduced to junk status, two larger ones had ratings cut from A2 to A3,  and some were cut “by as much as four notches.”  All are on “negative credit watch”, so expect more downgrades.

❖In a summary of growing resistance in Europe to “Austerity”, is this intriguing info:  “In Italy, the economic crisis is giving rise to political instability last seen 40 years ago.  Captains of industry are being given armed escorts as the tensions and political paranoia of the blood-stained 1970s return to haunt the country.  After the knee-capping last week of a nuclear industry in Genoa . . . “  There is even talk of bringing in the army.

❖Uh-oh.  Thor at work?   French President Hollande was on the plane headed to meet with Angela Merkel when lightning struck, the plane had to turn around, a new one was readied and took to the air, and thus Mr. Hollande was late for the meeting.

❖Proclaimed the “World’s Largest Wind Turbine Test Facility,” the project at SC’s Clemson University  is expected to be fully operational by 2013 and “will be open for use by any qualified public or private partner . . ..”  The federal wind energy tax credit, set to expire this year,  was critical to the project’s success.

❖And just up the coast a little ways, a wind power transmission line proposed to be laid on “the ocean floor from southern Virginia to northern New Jersey cleared a hurdle on Monday when the Interior Department opened the way for the project’s sponsors to start work on an environmental impact statement.”  The new Atlantic Wind Connection will link offshore wind farms and thus “greatly reduce the number of individual radial lines needed to bring the energy to shore.”

Universities and colleges are increasingly feeling the squeeze on their budgets (vs their missions).  Some recognize they cannot simply depend on students to meet skyrocketing costs, are installing efficiencies, stepping up fund-raising, etc.  Critics cite excessive dollars spent on amenities, salaries, health care (education is labor-intensive), computerization, etc.  And Moody’s is involved, too, rating the institutions on their abilities to generate revenue and favoring (you guessed it) “the nation’s most elite private colleges and large states institutions.”

Columbia School of Law’s Professor James Liebman and five students have determined that Carlos DeLunapaid was executed in TX in 1989 for a crime he did not commit, “despite evidence not only that he did not commit the crime but that another individual . . . did.”

❖It’s probably the first time “quietly” has been applied to Limbaugh:  “Controversial conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was quietly inducted into a hall of famous Missouri natives on Monday  in a ceremony held under tight security at the State Capitol in Jefferson City, a legislative spokesman said.”  Additionally, it’s not just “a hall” but “the Hall of Famous Missourians” including Mark Twain and Harry S Truman.   Perhaps the New Madrid Fault will act up in protest.

❖Democratic senators Franken (MN),  Blumenthal (CT), Wyden (OR), the ACLU, Center for Democracy & Technology, FreedomWorks, Americans for Limited Government and others are fearful that the current cybersecurity bill by Sen. Joe Lieberman would result in consumer data being shared between companies and the government.  Franken complained that the bill set aside “decades of privacy laws to  allow companies to freely monitor American citizens’ communications and give their personal information to the federal government–and grants companies near total immunity for doing so.”

Florida A&M University in Tallahassee has suspended its marching band until 2013.  The band was suspended after one of its members was beaten to death and several others wounded during a hazing ritual six months ago.  The band’s director for 40 years has resigned and 13 people have been charged with the death of band member Robert Champion.

❖The mortgage mess continues.  A woman in MS wants her money back “and a lawyer to take up her case.”  She thought she had purchased a specific house, made thousands of dollars of renovations on it, and then learned she had actually bought the one next door–which was on a much smaller lot and mold-ridden.  The realty company that had sold her the house said “they had been given the wrong information by the bank in charge of the foreclosed home anyway.”

❖There’s more info on that fraudulent voter registration company, Momentum Political Services in Sacramento.  Its owner “has an extensive criminal history” and her employee was involved “in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme”.  Momentum worked for Sacramento’s Republican Party which paid $5/Repub voter registered.  There’s more and surely there will be even more in the future.  Stay tuned.

❖Attaboys!  MS state Rep Bubba Carpenter (Rep) bragged on the new law that threatens to shut down the state’s only clinic that provides abortion, stating “you have to have moral values.  You have to start somewhere, and that’s what we’ve decided to do.” He also dismissed fears of a return to the coat hanger:  “That was just some language that some of the African-Americans used.”  MS Gov. Phil Bryant (Rep) chimed in, “the true hypocrisy is that their one mission in life is to abort children, is to kill children in the womb.”

❖Dominique Strauss-Kahn has now counter-sued Nafissatou Diallo, the NY maid he allegedly raped, for $1 million.

❖What can you say?  “TSA Agents [at LaGuardia]  Conduct ‘Full Monty’ Pat-Down On Henry Kissinger.”

What your state is good at and what it’s not.