May is rapidly drawing to a close, temps are climbing, and summer will soon be upon us. Here’s some news to prepare you for June–and don’t hesitate to share news items you’ve found, too.
❖”Spain is facing the gravest danger since the end of the Franco dictatorship as the country is frozen out of global capital markets and slides towards an epic showdown with Europe”.
❖Greek “Prisons are running out of food”.
❖More bloodshed straight ahead? “Syria rebels give government 48-hour ceasefire deadline”
❖With Syria seemingly approaching the boiling point, Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, has urged caution about arming the Syrian rebels and Secretary of State Clinton has said “Russia’s policy toward Syria will contribute to a potential civil war.”
❖WMD again? VX, Sarin, mustard gas. “International troops could be forced to intervene in Syria if the collapse of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime were to leave stockpiles of his chemical weapons vulnerable to terrorists, [according to] western diplomatic sources”
❖”Satellite image clues to Houla massacre in Syria”
❖Charles Taylor, ex-president of Liberia, has been sentenced to 50 years “for fueling Sierra Leone’s savage war, known for its mutilations, drugged child soldiers and sex slaves.”
❖The “2nd Round of Chinese Solar Tariffs Hits Hard”. Altogether, the new tariffs are “around 35% . . . ” or 10 times higher than previously announced.
❖China continues its persecution of Tibetans, having now rounded up “hundreds of residents and pilgrims” as self-immolations continue, including in the capital of Lhasa.
❖The international war on women was revved up a notch when Turkish PM Erdogan announced his opposition to Caesarean deliveries and called abortion “murder”. Women’s organizations were quick to react, calling on Erdogan to “address priority issues that concern women” such as “unemployment, domestic violence, or their inadequate standing in public life . . ..”
❖Interesting timing. First of the week there was Flame. Now there’s an announcement that DARPA (yeah, those guys) “will launch a new effort to solicit cyber weapons from the private sector.” $100 million, five-year project.
❖Reviewing the “kill list” and drone phenomena, Ta-Nehisi Coates concludes, “Policy is informed by the morality of a country. I think the repercussions of this unending era of death by silver bird will be profound.”
❖Are they confused about which country they’re in? Republicans pushed a bill which would prohibit abortion on the basis of gender of the fetus. That does happen in China, but there’s no evidence of it happening in the US. Cooler heads prevailed and the measure did not get the 2/3s majority required by the House.
❖This is a goodie: ProPublica has a PAC tracker.
❖All that talk about the EPA being far “too tough on oil and gas producers” is belied by an Associated Press study of enforcement during the past ten years. Results: The EPA was more aggressive under Texas oilman George W. Bush than under Obama.
❖Speaking of . . . . “Former President George W. Bush and family join President Obama for portrait unveiling”. Advisement: Lots of pictures at the link.
❖”Facebook’s stock price dives, and California could take a hit” That’s because Gov Jerry Brown estimated about $1.5 billion in taxes from the company’s IPO, taxes badly needed for a bulging state deficit.
❖NJ Republican Gov. Chris Christie has joined other governors by diverting some of the foreclosure fraud settlement money to other items in the state’s budget.
❖She’s baaaack. Actually, it appears she may never have left. Remember Kathy Nickolaus, the Waukesha County WI county clerk who had a penchant for “finding” votes at the last minute and so forth? Although she supposedly “stepped down”, there is evidence that she is very much in charge as the June 5th election draws nigh.
❖Occupy is not alone in the fight against the banks and the miseries caused by them. Though dressed in a suit, and with an impeccable ivy-league background, Dennis M. Kelleher of Better Markets, is also working to constrain the forces pushing us toward another Great Depression.
❖Bruce Springsteen rocked the house with more than music at a concert in Berlin, lashing out at financiers and bankers, calling them “‘greedy thieves’ and ‘robber barons’.”
❖”ACLU files lawsuit over ‘misleading’ Minnesota voter ID ballot question”. At issue is the requirement that voters present a “valid ID” before casting their ballots. What is not stated is that it must be a government-issued ID. There are also well as a couple of other problems.
❖Student loan debt “reached $904 billion in the first quarter of 2012,” up by $30 billion from the previous quarter. But not to worry: the Republicans are working hard on doing something or other about it.
❖Cash-strapped colleges have found a way to “strike deals with financial institutions, by turning student IDs into debit cards, and allowing lenders to take over disbursement of financial aid.”
❖”Security tighter than ever at Bilderberg conference” in Chantilly VA “as the world’s richest and most powerful arrive” for their annual to-do. Gotta protect ‘em from the hoi-polloi.
❖Although the NATO protests in Chicago are now over, protests continue in the city against threatened budget cuts and the “more insidious influence of big corporations and financial institutions”.
❖Minneapolis police moved in on a demonstration by Occupy Minnesota members at a foreclosed home on Wednesday night, arresting 14 protestors. Police were accused of using violence during the arrests, a charge that the police denied.
❖Occupy is broadening its participation to include both Quebec and Mexico. About 200 people gathered in NYC’s Union Square as a show of support for the students in Quebec. Encampments have been happening in Mexico for some time, common ground between Occupy in the US and protests in Mexico.
❖Thousands of young people in Mexico are involving themselves in the current elections. There is concern that the old Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) “which ran Mexico with an autocratic combination of corruption and coercion for 71 years” will make a come-back.
❖The War on Women continues in all its viciousness. In OK, an “emergency room doctor refused to provide emergency contraception to a 24-year-old female rape victim” because “it goes against my believes [sic.]” and the hospital denied her a rape kit.
❖Not liking projections based on scientific data about sea rise and its impact on the NC coastline (and hence on development), the state legislature is considering requiring future estimates of sea rise on said coast to be based on straight-line projections of past measures, and not on scientists’ extrapolations from available data poring in and computer modeling about exponential increases in sea level rise. So there!
❖We won one: Despite the Corn Refiners Associations’ “bid to rename its sweetening agent ‘corn sugar’, the Food and Drug Administration will stick with “high fructose corn syrup“.
❖NYC Mayor Bloomberg intends to impose a ban “on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts . . ..” Other municipalities have tried taxing the sugary drinks but with little success in reducing consumption. Bloomberg’s approach may have a better chance of working, according to recent public health research.
❖”Between 15m and 60m additional jobs are likely, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme” by stimulating the “green economy”.
❖What a hoot! There was another White House “birther” controversy back in 1880. Hint: Dems “failed miserably”.
❖Cool short video of last week’s eclipse.