Good evening! Here’re some news items gleaned from around the internets just for you.
❖Emptywheel reports on Patrick Fitzgerald’s very interesting press conference today.
❖CalPERS (the CA public employees pension fund) is following CalSTRS (the CA teachers’ pension fund) in declaring it will “vote its 7.8 million share against 10 directors” of WalMart at the annual shareholder meeting on June 1 in AR.
❖Jim Hightower scores in this article on “Snarling Banks.” He also references Woody’s “Jolly Banker“, as relevant in today’s mortgage mess and TBTF atmosphere as it was when he created it. (PS: You can hear Alan Lomax at the very end.)
❖We could use more news like this. “Freddie Mac forced Bank of America Corp. to buy back $330 million of mortgages originated over the past two years”, a result of Freddie Mac challenges “over technical issues with how the loans were manufactured.”
❖In introducing his “Congressional Oversight Over Trade Negotiations Act”, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) argues that negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership are being kept from Congress “while representatives of U.S. corporations–like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of American–are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement.”
❖This article contains a picture from the Frankfurt, Germany, Blockyup protests on May 19 that will do your heart good.
❖The months-long strike in Quebec over student tuitions and state repression of the strike, “is widening its nets, with students in neighboring Ontario considering striking in the fall semester and numerous unions in Quebec potentially joining . . . an ‘unlimited general strike’”. Last night 518 protestors were arrested in Montreal and 176 in Quebec City. As protests grow, and the tourist season in Quebec nears, Prime Minister Jean Charest “is replacing his most senior aide and bringing back a right-hand man [Daniel Gagnier] with a reputation for steady competence.” Whether authentic or not, this “march route” is quite clever.
❖New York City has been sued in federal court by Occupy Wall Street which claims “authorities destroyed $47,000 worth of books, computers and other equipment” taken last year during the Zucotti Park occupation.
❖For the first time in its lengthy history, Egypt’s citizens are casting votes for their future president. “It is like honey to my heart” declared one.
❖Yesterday we learned the Pakistani doctor who aided US efforts to get Bin Laden was sentenced to 33 years in jail. The Senate Appropriations Committee has responded by cutting aid to Pakistan by a million dollars for each year of the 33 years of the sentence.
❖Let the vetting begin. According to this report, the WH “is preparing a plan that would essentially give U.S. nods of approval to arms transfers from Arab nations to some Syrian opposition fighters.”
❖On the Romney campaign. At a roundtable discussion in one of Philadelphia’s charter schools, Romney cited the McKinsey Global Institute that small class size has no impact on student performance. Teachers in attendance immediately countered from their own experience, and a majority of studies find a strong correlation between smaller class size and improved learning. Later, at the Latino Coalition’s Annual Economic Summit in DC, Romney declared he would do “everything in my power” to reverse deteriorating schools. Apparently, that means more school vouchers. Progressive groups declared his approach “would return the nation to a time without accountability.” In his speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Romney addressed his plan for higher education. Think Progress, in response, said “Romney’s plan would make the problem decidedly worse in two important ways, giving federal money away to Wall Street banks [by diverting money for student loans back to the banks who earn $s by being the middle-man] and predatory for-profit colleges . . ..”
❖As the Scott Walker recall election goes into its final days, Lilly Ledbetter journeyed to WI from her native AL to join other Democrats in their fight against Walker. Additionally, the Democratic Governors Association is “pouring another $1 million into the recall campaign” bringing their total to $3 million. Volunteers are “Bringing in Van Loads of People to Vote Early” in Milwaukee, and there is “Huge Early Voting in Madison”, a Democratic stronghold.
❖PA Republican Gov. Corbett reportedly “is having a bad education week. Everywhere he goes, people are protesting” his education cuts–in Reading, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburg.
❖Are women being redistricted out of existence on the political scene? Republicans and Democrats seem to be using redistricting against women. Cases in point are in NC, CO and GA.
❖Rep Trent Franks (R-AZ) was barraged by protestors, knocking on his office door and telling him what he should be fixing locally rather than focusing on “a bill that would prevent doctors in D.C. from performing abortions after 20 weeks . . ..”
❖The WaPo checked out the WH visitor logs for January 17th, and found “that the lobbying industry Obama has vowed to constrain is a regular presence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave . . . [and] . . . that lobbyists with personal connections to the White House [seemingly] enjoy the easiest access.”
❖Paranoia strikes deep. Felix Roque, Republican West New York Mayor, and his son have been arrested by the FBI “on charges of illegally hacking into a website associated with a recall movement [so he could] tap into e-mails to find who might be plotting against him.”
❖They’re the 18th! amazon.com has dropped its membership in ALEC.
❖Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan said Tuesday “that the Church would abandon Jesus’ efforts to help the sick and feed the poor in protest of the contraception mandate that only applies to insurance companies and not the Church itself”. Meanwhile, there are other on-going legal activities involving the Church, and nuns who must be brought to heel.
❖Heartland Institute president Joseph Bast has said their “colorful” billboard with a picture of Unabomber Ted Kaczyinki supposedly saying “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?” has cost them big bucks. But he also said their problems could be due to his “weakness in financial management.” And judgment?
❖UN Climate talks have reached gridlock with developing nations wanting the industrialized nations to “bear the brunt of the emissions cuts” while the industrialized nations don’t want “fast-growing economies like China and India. . . [to] . . . get off too easy.
❖Vivid, riveting account of a visit by a small delegation of Achuar Indians from the Peruvian Amazon to the native peoples living in the Talisman-devastated oil sands region of Alberta.
❖Tenacious Mexican small farmers have won an important battle against a legislative bill that would have greatly extended the existing hold transnational corporations, particularly Monsanto, have over seed and food patents in the country. While the bill was withdrawn, it can be resurrected next legislative session.
❖Aerial surveys of MN’s “northeastern corner found 4,230 [moose], or less than half the number counted in 2006.” Nonetheless, they are still going to let hunters in there.
❖Update on the dolphin and pelican deaths off the coast of Peru: Peru’s Production Minister said they died of “natural causes”, though sudden die-offs of those magnitudes hardly seem “natural”. Environmental groups are still arguing that offshore oil exploration might be to blame.
❖Another study on honeybees and pesticides.
❖The World Health Organization has released a “preliminary estimate” that the radiation doses resulting from the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns are “very low, and very few cancers would be expected as a result.”
❖It’s official: Los Angeles becomes the first US city to ban single-use plastic bags.
❖Signs of the times: The New Orleans Time-Picayune will be cutting staff and may be planning to cut publication to two or three times a week.
❖Not a sign of the times. New York State Sen. Thomas F. O’Mara (R-Big Flats) has a bill up which “would require that any anonymous post online is subject to removal if the poster refuses to post–and verify–their legal name, their IP address, and their home address.”
❖Thumbs-up! “Newark Mayor Cory Booker Declares Drug War ‘A Failure’, Endorses Medical Marijuana”.
❖According to Public Policy Polling, a new survey reveals a “significant increase” among African-Americans in Maryland for same-sex marriage and the likelihood that a referendum to keep the state’s law legalizing same-sex marriage will pass by “a healthy margin”.
❖That vial which supposedly holds some of Ronald Reagan’s blood has been withdrawn from auction and, instead, will be given to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.