Best wishes to all for a safe, relaxing holiday. We’ll see you back here Monday evening.
❖Things are still hopping in Montreal, with protestors arrested now numbering 2,500, bogging down the judicial process. Originally, the protests were about huge tuition hikes, but the government response of imposing very restrictive measures on the protests, and huge fines for violating them, has further inflamed the situation.
❖Occupy Homes MN has saved one family from being evicted from their home after PNC Bank foreclosed because the bank itself “failed to withdraw a monthly payment, then demanded two months’ late payment for their own mistake”.
❖If you want to know what percentage of houses in your ZIP are underwater, just go here.
❖”A leading economist says Congress needs to act fast on refinancing legislation to help the most homeowners and give the improving housing market a boost.” That would be Mark Zandi who pointed out the pending legislation extend help to those who are underwater but keeping their payments current.
❖Simon Johnson has a very interesting article up, complete with link to a petition, exploring in some detail the–ahem–appropriateness of the certain connections of one Jamie Dimon to the Federal Reserve.
❖Morgan Stanley says it will refund Facebook investors who overpaid for Facebook stock last Friday, though how they know how much anybody overpaid was not revealed.
❖”Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs plans to invest $40 billion into projects linked to renewable energy over the next decade . . ..”
❖Leonie Industries, a defense contractor, became so upset with USA Today journalists who reported that the firm “owed at least $4 million in federal taxes”, that they launched a campaign against them. Fake Twitter and Facebook accounts and websites were set up in the reporters’ names, negative comments about them were made on a host of internet sites, etc. DOD is reviewing the matter and will take appropriate action.
❖”I would rather say nothing otherwise I would only have ugly things to say,” said former Vatican Bank Chief Chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi after he was fired by the Board of Directors. In 2010, Italian prosecutors seized $29 million “from a Rome bank account registered to the [Vatican Bank] amid suspicions of money-laundering . . ..
❖A US drone hit a mosque in North Waziristan on Thursday, killing at least 10 people, following a drone hit on a house in North Waziristan a day earlier which killed four. Such attacks don’t bode well for “reconciliation” between the US and Pakistan following the November NATO air raids that killed border patrols.
❖UN nuclear inspectors in Iran “have found uranium enriched beyond the previously reported levels of 20 percent in samplings taken [in February] from [Iran's] new underground fuel enrichment plant . . ..” Currently, six world powers are embroiled in tough negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program, so it’ll be interesting to see what impact the newly announced UN findings will have.
❖“Crosshair” stickers appeared outside the offices of Democratic lawmakers in the MO capital in January but legislation introduced to install security cameras in the state capital building’s hallways failed to pass. Meanwhile, the Missouri House Clerk authorized spending $1100 “on a security camera to keep watch over a new bronze bust of . . . Rush Limbaugh. UPDATE: Reaction to news of the Limbaugh security camera has been so swift and strong that plans for the thing have been scrapped.
❖Wisconsin Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Mahlon Mitchell, rallied a crowd of about 110 gathered at a community center and together they all marched to City Hall and voted.
❖FL has stringent requirements that the unemployed must meet before they can receive unemployment benefits. “The National Employment Law Project and Florida Legal Services want the U.S. Labor Department to investigate and overturn the regulations” which they say are the toughest in the country. In 2011, 17% of Florida’s unemployed received benefits compared to 27% nationally.
❖FL Gov Rick Scott (R-of course) continues on his crusade to purge the state’s voter rolls. One example includes the 60-year old owner of a small business who’s lived and voted in FL for 40 years, but who has received notice that she was not born in the US (she was, in Ohio) and therefore is no longer eligible to vote in FL. Remember Katherine Harris who managed to purge 7,000 FL voters in 2000?
❖A NLRB administrative law judge has ordered a new union election at a Long Island Target story. The June 2011 election was contested by The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, arguing that “Target illegally intimidated workers for months leading up to the vote” (137-85 against unionization).
❖Detroit will be “eliminating almost half its streetlights.” Although several towns across the country have cut back on the number of streetlights, Detroit’s action will cover “more area than Boston, Buffalo and San Francisco combined.”
❖Why can’t we get this right? “A multibillion-dollar federal initiative to move low-income elderly and disabled people from long-term care facilities into the community has fallen far short of its goals . . ..”
❖Or this? Increasingly, ordinances are being used (or new ones issued) to essentially outlaw being homeless. In Madison, WI, police are now issuing $180 tickets to homeless persons who ask passers-by for a cigarette.
❖And this? The US “is one of three [countries] that does not offer paid maternity leave” to women. The Family & Medical Leave Act provides for 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but only 11% of private and 17% of public employees report they had access to such leave.
❖”A second federal judge in California has struck down a law denying benefits to partners in a gay marriage.”
❖The FBI is now responding to break-ins and arson at Atlanta-area women’s health clinics and offices of doctors who spoke out against the state’s new law tightly restricting late-term abortions.
❖One of “the disappeared” during Argentina’s Dirty War has been identified. His body washed ashore in 1976, indicating he was one of many thrown alive from aircraft into the sea. DNA evidence has linked him to his daughter, who was only days old when her parents were disappeared. She was adopted by a military family. Her mother has never been found.
❖Although it is one of the poorer Latin American countries, Bolivia is investing in its future. It has received a $20 million International Development Bank loan to “promote cognitive development, socio-emotional and physical development of children under 4 years old”, aimed at 25,000 of its children.
❖Methane gas has been found in “three residential water wells and two streams” in PA, in an area about “half a mile from a Chesapeake Energy hydraulic fracturing drilling pad.”
❖Costs of photovoltaic modules have dropped “nearly 75% in the past three years . . . to the point where solar power is now competitive with daytime retail power prices in a number of countries.” That’s according to a new study which urges policy-makers, planners and home owners others to pay more attention to the benefits of solar power into future planning.
❖CA’s Public Utilities Commission just raised “the maximum total capacity for all rooftop solar systems . . . to about 5,200 megawatts from 2,400 megawatts”. This move was not without its detractors, however, and studies have been ordered to address their concerns.
❖Australia Antarctic Division “scientists estimate there has been as much as a 60 per cent reduction in the volume of Antarctic Bottom Water, the cold dense water that drives global ocean currents.”
❖Also from Australia, we learn “DNA evidence shows that marine reserves help to sustain fisheries“. 2.5 billion people get 20% of their average animal protein intake from fish, and in many parts of the world “fish protein is absolutely essential . . ..” Overfishing has led to depletion of many types of fish and others are in danger.
❖Yesterday we covered Romney’s positions on public schools, including classroom sizes. Obama’s folks have been riding hard on Romney’s intent to expand classroom sizes. Problem is, “the president’s own education secretary [Arne Duncan] has taken a similar position.”
❖Paul Krugman will be on Bill Maher tonight. Also appearing will be Art Laffer, creator of the famous curve. Should be quite interesting, if you have the time and a tee-vee.
❖”The Happiest Countries in the World.
❖Delightful, brief history of “Street Vending in New York City“.
❖The missing JPMorgan Chase money has been found! And other absurd news.
❖And this is something you don’t want to miss, for sure. Peace out.