So much news to share on this fine Saturday! Please add items you’d like to share, too.

International Developments

❖”Obama’s 262 Drone Strikes in Pakistan: A map of all the reported attacks–five times as many under Obama as under Bush”

❖Apparently, most of the drone pilots are former AF pilots, now civilians.

❖Today and tomorrow are election days in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t seem to be able to unite with the various revolutionary groups, necessary for reaching a majority. “The disparate revolutionary groups cannot agree on who speaks for them and what they want.” This split enhances the chances of the Mubarak hold-over candidate.

❖interesting: “Russia backs Assad’s departure ‘if that is what Syrians want’”

❖President Francois Hollande has announced “that France would begin its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan next month and complete it by the end of the year.”

❖Sunday’s elections in France just might result in victories for the “Green, Communist and other hard-left” candidates to the point that Presidence Hollande will be forced to make concessions to their “virulently anti-austerity” positions.

World Economics

Spain has agreed “to accept a European bailout to try to stabilize its cash-starved banks, following increasingly desperate calls from world leaders to accept the money before Greek elections next week that they fear would cause havoc in the markets.” Update: Spain is to receive $125 billion in eurozone loans. Spain’s Economy Minister “emphasized that the help would be for the financial system, not the economy as a whole.” Spain doesn’t want to put its people through the “Austerity” requirements imposed on Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

❖Remember last week when the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn guy hurled water on one woman and turned his fists on another on Greece national tee-vee? He’s now fleeing from the police who are hunting him for the assaults. The people of Greece are riled up and in the streets about it.

Working for a Living

❖Two animated, narrated graphs show most dramatically the relationship between union membership and shared prosperity and the impact of unions on inequality.

❖Facing a $40 million budget shortfall, the Reading (PA) School District’s Union Elementary School has laid off 110 teachers. The teachers were pulled, one-by-one out of the school assembly, so the children knew right away something was wrong. Classy.

Chicago Teachers Union members have voted and 90% say “OK to work stoppage”. Rahmbo denied the teachers a 4% pay increase last year and wanted a longer school day. Chicago Public Schools has offered a 5-year contract with a 2% raise and making the school day 10% longer. CTU wants a “two-year contract that would reduce class sizes and give teachers a 24 percent raise in their first year and a five percent raise the second year.”

Politics USA

❖Florida’s Innocence Commission was created by the FL Supreme Court in 2009 when a 35-year prisoner was ordered freed after DNA evidence proved he had not committed the kidnap and rape of a 9 year old boy. Gov Rick Scott has vetoed the the Innocence Commission’s $200,000 budget. It costs around $50 million to eventually execute a person in FL, so “Scott’s decision is obscured by reason or logic”.

❖”The American Civil Liberties Union has sued Florida over Gov. Rick Scott’s voter-list purge.”

BP doesn’t want to pay the $25 billion the Department of Justice has demanded for BP’s 2010 Gulf blow-out. Instead, BP is trying to negotiate a payment of less than $15 billion–”to resolve all criminal and a civil penalties”.

Money Matters USA

❖First quarter 2012 US oil production is up 12% over the first quarter of 2011, “and topped six million barrels a day for the first time in 13 years . . ..” ND, TX and the Gulf of Mexico were the chief contributors. Increased production doesn’t seem to have shown up yet in export rates, however.

❖AARP has published an interesting pros-and-cons article about a dozen policy options for Social Security: Raising the retirement age, recalculating the COLA, increase payroll tax cap or simply eliminate it, reduce benefits for higher earners, increase the payroll tax rate, etc., to the really nasty one–means testing for Social Security.

Heads Up!

❖Students in the thousands took to the streets of Montreal Thursday, getting down to about as bare as they could and not be arrested for that. Montreal is hosting the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix and the protestors had the desired impact on that. In a pre-emptive strike, since they were sure the protestors “were preparing to commit crimes and damage property”, the police waded in with “tear gas, pepper spray, and batons” and arrested 39.

❖”Members of the internet hacking group Anonymous have been staging protests across 16 cities in India, against what they say is Internet censorship in the country.” Wearing Guy Fawkes masks, Anonymous members packed into a sports ground in Mumbai on Saturday in protest of “unfair blocking and banning of file sharing sites by Indian internet service providers.”

War on Women

Sexual abuse and violence among immigrant agricultural workers in the US is rampant, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. Results of a 2010 survey of 150 female farmworkers in CA, show that 80% had been sexually harassed. Given their gender, low-wage and immigrant status, they frequently feel isolated–and that law enforcement is more to be shunned than sought.

❖We learned yesterday about the mass assault in Egypt’s Tahrir Square by 200 males on about 50 females whose male guards were too few in number to effectively protect them. Other assaults against women individually or in groups of two and three, continue. That “New Egypt” women experienced in the first 18 days of the 2011 uprising was cut short by the mass sexual assault on Lara Logan, CBS correspondent. The recent upsurge in attacks on women “has gone overboard,” according to a student, “No matter what is behind this, it is unacceptable.”

Planet Earth News

❖The MLP Parity Act, sponsored by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) would make master limited partnerships, a staple in fossil-fuel industries, available to renewable energy industries, too. Right now the federal tax credit for wind energy ($15 billion in private investment) is scheduled to expire at the end of the year and the MLP could alleviate that.

❖What a deal! Republican Gov Tom Corbett of PA wants to give Shell Oil “$1.65 billion in tax credits over 25 years starting in 2017″ and to have “taxpayers . foot the bill for hazardous materials clean up . . . , a cost that could easily soar into the tens of millions. . ..”

❖The Awa tribe in the Amazon rainforest has made a “‘desperate appeal’ to Brazil’s justice minister to ‘evict loggers from our land immediately . . . before they come back and destroy everything’.”

❖180 countries are supposed to come up with a save-the-earth document at the Rio+20 summit. However, a leaked draft shows they are fighting over money and nit-picking over words. As the reporter concluded: “This textual hard grind is enough to make a sane person mad.”

Tunisia is embarking on an ambitious solar power project, funded by a developer in England and local investors. Generating a minimum of 9000 GWh, the project “will adhere to the principles of secure provision and distribution of electricity, social responsibility, economic sustainability, and environmental safety. Did I add it will also employ over 20,000 people (current unemployment is 18%)? Power will be sent to Italy via power cables under the Mediterranean Sea.

Kenya’s Lake Turkana area is the designated site for 365 wind turbines, a project funded by European and African companies. Power produced will be sold to Kenya Power at $0.09/kWh “much lower . . . than that paid for hydroelectric power mainly used today.”

❖”Japan ‘must restart‘ two nuclear reactors, [Prime Minister] Noda warns”

Break Time

❖A little ukelele music for your evening enjoyment.