The first weekend in June is upon us. Hope yours will be a good one.
❖UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that Syria risks a “‘catastrophic civil war’ in the wake of the massacre of more than 100 civilians, including 49 children . . . as the Damascus government again blamed the killings on terrorist gangs.”
❖”The UN Human Rights Council has called for an investigation into the killing of more than 100 civilian at Houla, and condemned Syria for the massacre.”
❖US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today said that the round of talks to be held with Iran in Moscow June 18-19 should reveal whether Iran “plans to take concrete action to demonstrate its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes”.
❖A report issued by the U.N. Development Program and UNAIDS warned against “restrictive free trade agreements that may threaten public health, amplifying international pressure against President Barack Obama’s controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.” Specifically, such trade agreements makes prices for essential medications so high that poor people cannot afford them.
❖China continues to allow its currency to drop against the dollar, a move that “could help Chinese exports but worsen trade friction with Europe and particularly the United States.”
❖Oh, boy. Paul Krugman sees a huge problem for Europe, specifically that the euro seems to be “on the verge of imploding”.
❖And guess who’s right about a few things, such as “Italy should say ‘ciao, euro’ if the European Central Bank doesn’t start printing money to tackle the debt crisis and Germany should quit the single currency if it won’t back a bolder role for the ECB”? Drum roll, please: Silvio Berlusconi!
❖ACTA (US-promoted Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) was rejected by the European Parliament. While many European countries initially were positive about ACTA, the situation has now reversed “following the rise of a massive protest movement . . ..”
❖In this video, Phil Angelides, former head of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, calls for a breakup of the banks.
❖”Today the [US] commerce department said cuts to local and state government spending were holding back economy growth in the U.S. . . . [Based on] current trends, the US job market will not get back to where it was before the recession started until the 2020s.”
❖General Motors and Ford are offering their retirees lump-sum payments in an effort to get out from under their pension liabilities. GM is also “shifting its plans to a unit of Prudential FInancial, Inc.”
❖May was a disappointing month for auto sales.
❖Oh, I’m sure this hurt. JPMorgan Chase “executed wash trades on 10 separate occasions in U.S. crude oil and gasoline futures in the first half of 2011 . . ..” ‘Wash trades” are banned. So, a $30,000 fine has been imposed plus a $10,000 fine on one particular trader.
❖(DD) So Elizabeth Warren “admitted” to claiming Native American heritage. And the usual traditional media suspects – Chris Cillizza, we’re looking at you – are calling this a real concern for the campaign. No poll has shown any interest in the media-generated controversy, however. And nobody has actually come up with a way that Warren profited off her status or capitalized on it. It’s one of those “blunders” that everyone knows is a blunder, but that nobody can articulate why the average voter should care.
❖This is beyond the pale. Jay Townsend, member of the Nan Hayworth (R-NY) campaign for the House, responded to a Facebook commenter thusly “. . . the War on Women? Let’s hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won’t abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector.”
❖About half a dozen Indiana Republicans were so dismayed at Republican senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock’s statement that he opposed bipartisanship in Washington that they are now backing Democrat Joe Donnelly.
❖During the Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett-WI Gov. Scott Walker debate yesterday, Barrett got in this zinger: “I have a police department that arrests felons. He has a practice of hiring them.”
❖Recent survey of physicians reveals that 54% say they don’t regret their decision to enter the field of medicine; that’s down from 69% last year.
❖Employment in the US health care sector has been on an upward trend since 1990.
❖How many hours at minimum wage you’d have to work in order to afford a 2-bedroom apartment, state by state.
❖Everything you buy is controlled by ten corporations. Go here to learn who they are.
❖Quebec Premier Charest on the government’s quitting the attempted “negotiations” with students: “. . . there’s a big gap. We made great efforts, and in the end, we came to the conclusion that there’s an impasse.” Interesting read on what the students proposed and why Charest & Co. rejected those proposals.
❖Fracking industry workers “are seven times as likely to die on the job” as other workers. Drilling rigs increased by 22% in 2011, but inspections decreased by 12%. A letter of complaint has been sent by the AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, and United Mine Workers to the Occupation Health and Safety Administration and the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
❖Marcellus Shale Protest site now boasts a calendar of events!
❖The International Energy Agency in a new report says, “Forcing natural gas out of shale rock through hydraulic fracturing is riskier than conventional gas development and requires tougher rules than those now in place . . ..”
❖Two arrests were made outside the Ohio Shale Forum in Trumbull County, “another closed-to-the-public meeting on fracking attended by Ohio Governor Kasich, legislators, and gas drilling representatives . . ..”
❖ALEC is hard at work in OH, apparently, with Ohio Senate Bill 315 containing language “similar to ALEC’s “Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act.” In addition, “at least 33 of the 45 Ohio legislators” who sponsored the bill are members of ALEC.
❖They just don’t get it. Dow Chemical will be rolling out its new GM corn seeds together with its 2,4-D herbicide next year. Dow is having a hard time with it’s messaging, “spending a lot of energy denying allegations on several fronts . . ..” Nonetheless, “more than 365,000 public comments were reportedly filed with the USDA opposing approval of the . . . corn.”
❖George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain accused of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL, has had his bail revoked because he deceived the court about the “amount of donations made to his defence fund” and misled authorities about his passport, handing over an old one while an updated one was hidden in a safe deposit box.
❖The Center for Constitutional Rights “has filed a complaint on behalf of 10 men housed at Pelican Bay state prison” in CA–and who have been held in solitary confinement for at least 10 years, one of them for 33 years.
❖An autopsy shows that Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s officers “were partly to blame for the death of Latino military veteran in December.” There is now a call for a criminal investigation.
❖A few days ago we covered the boat- and air-attack by Honduran and US DEA agents on the Patuca River, during which 4 unarmed people, including 2 pregnant women, were killed. There’s now a local backlash, raising concerns that the War on Drugs in Central America has gone too far. Nonetheless, “American officials say they are determined to press forward . . ., unifying . . . anti-drug efforts in Central America . . ..”
❖The huge HidroAysen dam which was to be built in Chile’s Patagonia region is on hold as one firm pulled out, saying there was no use continuing “unless Chile’s government came up with an energy strategy that had wide support.”
❖”A Colombian documentary filmmaker and indigenous leader [25 year-old Yamid Ballarin Suescun] was found dead in . . . Medellin . . . [in a township which is] ‘a place of conflict where homicides of youth and community leaders occur frequently’”.
❖While the end is not near, they now claim they know when it’ll come.
❖”40 Of The Most Powerful Photographs Ever Taken”.