Special announcement for you! DDay will be moderating the special Book Salon next Wednesday (June 20, at 2:00 pm) here at FDL. He’ll be featuring Chris Hayes’ Twilight of the Elites. An excellent excerpt from the featured book is here.

International Developments

❖”The Yemeni army drove al-Qaeda-linked fighters from two of their main strongholds on Tuesday after weeks of fighting, the Defence Ministry said, a major breakthrough for a U.S.-backed offensive meant to secure stability in the wider oil-rich Gulf region.” Residents of Zinjibar spontaneously took to the streets to celebrate. Militants had held the territory for two years.

❖This thing is escalating fast: “The United States voiced fears that Syria’s government is planning a new massacre, as regime helicopters fired on rebel stronghold towns and raging violence killed nearly 90 people on Monday.” Overall toll now at 14,000 persons. Meanwhile, UN monitors reported being “fired on and forced to turn back as they attempted to reach the town of Haffa . . ..” And the US has accused Russia of sending Syria those attack helicopters.

❖Contrary to what the US said yesterday (that talks with Pakistan about the supply route to Afghanistan were on hold), Pakistan says the talks are still on.

Protestors in Russia are demanding new elections–and a new president. President Putin approved new fines for protestors last week and has said Russia will not be “weakened by ‘social shocks’.”

World Economics

❖”Governments in Europe should lower taxes and increase salaries to boost growth rather than insisting on austerity and continued saving, famous economist Nouriel Roubini told a German newspaper in an interview on Tuesday.” Roubini also argued for keeping Greece in the euro zone and to “weaken the euro, ideally to parity with the U.S. dollar to give Greece, Italy and Spain a real chance . . ..”

❖And now Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund calls for: the rich to halt their quest for higher incomes “while there are still 200 million people worldwide looking for a job and poverty is on the rise”‘; and a green tax on gas-guzzlers and “a range of green measures to tackle climate change”.

Money Matters USA

❖Harvard Professor Michael Sandel “lamented that almost every aspect of life in the United States was being ‘sold off to the highest bidder’”. For example, he points to line-standing companies which hire homeless people to stand in long lines, holding places for lobbyists and others, who pay the companies for the service which then allows them access to congressional hearings.

❖Treasure trove of graphs and charts from the US Treasury Department. Just dig right in.

❖”Editorial: Lawmakers need to stand up for homeowners”. Most of CA Attorney General Kamala Harris’ proposals are not expected to generate too much opposition, but enforcement is another matter. “The Big 5 banks want to be exempt since they signed the national settlement. Not a chance. The law should apply to all lenders. Lenders also want the bills to sunset with the end of the national settlement . . .. Not a chance. These consumer protections need to be long-lasting.”

Politics USA

❖Words fail. “Democratic Website Publishes List of Obama Accomplishments, Half of Them Are the Names of People He’s Killed”

❖Interesting the maneuvering that’s going on. Jeb Bush yesterday said both his father and Ronald Reagan would be out of step in today’s Republican Party. In response, Grover “Norquist Lashes Out At Jeb Bush: Anti-Tax Hero: Bush’s Reagan Remark Was ‘Bizarre’”. Now, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who did sign Grover’s no-tax pledge, but now says it “has got to go”.

❖The situation with voting rights in FL continues to heat up. The US Department of Justice has informed the FL Attorney General that the DOJ “is planning to sue the state of Florida for purging voters from its rolls in violation of federal law . . ..”

❖The Federal Elections Commission has ruled that campaign contributions can be sent via text messaging. There are limits, such as a $10 limit per text and $50/month/PA. Both the Romney and Obama campaigns were in support of the rule.

❖A proposed anti-bullying guide for MA public schools was blocked in 2006 by the then-Romney administration since it contained terms ‘bisexual’ and ‘transgender’ in discussions of harassment. At the time, the Romney administration claimed the document needed “further review”; actually, it was because the MA Department of Public Health’s Deputy Commissioner said that use of those two terms meant “DPH’s name may not be used in this publication.”

❖Speaking of the right-wing, they’re having their confab in Washington DC this week. Interesting comment from one of them: “‘Everybody is speaking that language . . .. It’s all talk of limiting government, all talk [about] the budget, all talk of cutting government . . .. In a sense we’ve won that battle. We’ve won the narrative of what issues are important. Now it’s about who’s gonna follow through on that jargon.” And how, we might add.

❖Remember former Sen. Larry “Wide Stance” Craig? Seems he used $217,000 from his campaign funds to defend himself after getting caught in an airport sting in 2007. The Federal Election Commission is suing him, saying he must reimburse the fund and pay penalties of $6500.

Diane Ravitch, who we learned yesterday was suddenly dumped by the Brookings Institute following her criticisms of Mitt Romney’s education policies, has an article up today criticizing Mitt Romney’s education policies: “Mitt Romney’s Blueprint for Privatizing American Education.” She’ll probably have more articles in the future criticizing Mitt Romney’s education policies, too.

Working for a Living

❖”The Chicago Teachers Union says nearly 90 percent of its members have voted to authorize a strike, far more than the required 75 percent.”

❖A National Labor Relations Board rule which would speed-up union organizing elections was struck down Monday because of lack of a quorum on the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Well, turns out, the judge presumed absent was in fact present for the virtual vote, but just failed to vote on that one item. Stay tuned.

❖If interest in electric cars picks up, A123 Systems of Livonia, MI claims a new technology will enable “a simpler, lighter, longer-lasting battery pack”. However, sales of the Volt and Leaf electric cars total only 10,000 this year, which has slowed work at A123 systems. The company has received orders for batteries for the electric mini-car, Chevrolet Spark, which is due out next year.

❖Things in Sharpesville (PA) Area School District are somewhat improved following resolution of a grievance filed by unionized cafeteria workers. Seems the district was charging the cafeteria workers “for food or drinks that couldn’t be sold or consumed by students” because the items were past their expiration dates or they had been reheated. They’ll no longer be able to charge the workers for the food.

Heads Up!

❖In a rare occurrence, a Navy drone crashed in a MD swamp Monday. Nobody was hurt, apparently not even any property. But the crash “could complicate efforts by the Pentagon and other government agencies to gain approval for wider use” of the things over domestic air space. Darn.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has placed a hold on a bill that “gives the government too much power to secretly collect data on U.S. citizens.” The bill would extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for five years. Sen Wyden has been trying to obtain information on how much data has been collected already on Americans, but to no avail.

Mother Earth News

❖She “showed that ordinary people are capable of creating rules that allow for the sustainable and equitable management of shared resources, countering conventional wisdom that only private ownership or top-down regulation could prevent their destruction.” She also was the first (and still the only) woman to win the Nobel Economics Prize. Elinor Ostrom, RIP.

Mixed Bag

❖What’s up with this guy? Yesterday, we learned he and his wife left their daughter at a restaurant (for only 15 minutes and as a result of confusion). Today, we learn he left somebody else in charge of the entire country (for only 15 minutes and as a result of confusion).

Break Time

He depicted the New York of his day like none other.