Good evening! Here’re some of the things that have happened upon the world’s stage since last we checked in. Please share any others you found of interest.
❖”Deutsch Bank . . . has a funding gap of as much as 14 billion euros ($17.5 billion) at its Italian and Spanish units which could reduce capital levels at the firm if those countries leave the euro, according to analysts . . ..”
❖The World Bank is forecasting ”‘a long period of volatility in the global economy’ as the eurozone debt crisis escalates” and has warned developing nations to expect slowed growth.
❖From the UK: “The government will tell up to 70,000 jobseekers that they must work unpaid for four weeks or lose their benefits for three months under an expansion of the mandatory work activity program me.”
❖Spanish miners in Asturias and Leon are protesting government cuts which they fear “will lmean the end of their industry”. There are approximately 8,000 miners in the area. Huge fires are blazing from old tires. The miners are holding the police off with “skyrockets, slings, golf ball launchers and even homemade device to fire potatoes . . ..”
❖Yesterday, we learned the US was accusing Russia of supplying Assad with attack helicopters. Today, we learn that Russia is accusing the US, other Western nations and certain Arab countries of arming the Syrian rebels. Concern is being expressed about a possible “proxy war”.
❖Seems hard to believe, but the Global Peace Index indicates that the world was actually more peaceful n the past year.
❖Ten bombs exploded across Iraq today, killing 84 and injuring around 300. Shia pilgrims seem to have been targeted, at least in some of the attacks.
❖The United Nations is very concerned about the number of babies being abandoned in Europe using so-called ‘baby boxes’ or depositories outside hospitals, almost 200 of which have been installed in the past decade in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic and Latvia.
❖For your No Sh*t Sherlock files. Jamie Dimon on Fail Whale: JPMorgan traders in London “didn’t understand the risks they were taking and weren’t properly monitored.” DDay has lots more on the Senate hearing with Jamie here, here and here.
❖And this makes 19: Johnson & Johnson has decided to back out of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). Note the spokesperson used the term “suspend”, though.
❖”The Justice Department has begun an anti-trust probe into whether cable companies are acting improperly to hurt nascent competiton from online video . . . ” Companies the DOJ has been in contact with include Netflix, Hulu, Time Wamer and Comcast.
❖Included in the JOBS Act is a provision which allows “emerging growth companies” (under $1 billion in revenues/year) to “avoid independent accounting requirements for the first five years of their existence.” So, companies having difficulty meeting regulatory requirements are merging with “dormant or dead corporations that are already registered”–with the result that they “make fewer financial disclosures, use a new, confidential SEC review process . . . [and] their bankers communicate more freely with potential investors.” What a deal.
❖Republicans gone wild. Philadelphia’s The Naked City summarizes a series of Republican goings-on, such as: secretly begging “for more power to crush unions”; school vouchers, including funneled to fundamentalist religious institutions; legalizing payday lending, including pushing interest rates to 400%; cutting the $205/month General Assistance; etc.
❖Michigan Republicans are acting up, too. They rammed through three bills yesterday aimed at impeding voting, and are trying to make the legislation effective this year rather than 2013. A cellphone video taken by Democratic Representative Jeff Irwin shows one of the bills passed with a 66 vote majority, well shy of the 73 required for a law to take immediate effect, but the chair declared the vote at 73. What a mess!
❖The US Supreme Court passed on the opportunity to get involved in the “Birthers’ Case”
❖Congressmen Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) complained in a letter to Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke that they had received no documents regarding potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, not have they been able to interview any Wal-Mart employees. They did state that Wal-Mart lawyers “identified Brazil, India, China and South African along with Mexico as areas having the biggest risk for corruption . . ..”
❖”Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson . . . is giving $10 million to a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney”.
❖Mitt Romney’s salary plan was actually part of a Saturday Night Live skit in 1992, presented by an actor playing Ross Perot.
❖Interesting hearing in the House about the Transportation Security Administration, with the Republican committee chair saying the agency is “bloated with personnel”. TSA employees facing termination gave testimony.
❖Bob Kerrey is attempting to get back into politics, specifically in his old Senate seat from Nebraska. Alex Pareene concludes, “So elect Bob Kerrey, Nebraska. Not because he’ll do anything to help Nebraska, specifically, but to fix the moral rot of the Senate, which has been poisoned by partisanship.”
❖AZ Democrat Ron Barber, a former Gabrielle Giffords aide, won in the special election for completion of her term in the US House
❖AZ Gov. Jan Brewer has ordered training for all police to make sure they “enforce the state’s tough immigration crackdown.”
❖Rand Paul’s attempt to “drastically cut food stamp spending and replace the food aid program with block grants to the states” went down to a resounding defeat (65-33) today.
❖The Death Penalty debate has provided a lot of opportunity for politicians to talk and bluster, but in fact there is uncertainty about arguments pro and con, as recent research underscores. Much of what we hear in debate is actually “the product of faith, not data.”
❖The US Conference of Catholic Bishops is actively supporting the DREAM Act and finds Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’s alternative proposal “problematic” since it “would create a permanent underclass of people” deprived of the benefits and protections of citizens.
Working for a Living
❖Stunningly good story of poverty in a small Kentucky town.
❖Novel idea: Communities losing population helping young people pay off their student loans in exchange for establishing residence in the community. Niagara Falls, fifty KS counties, and other communities are among the innovators.
❖”Registered nurses at Research Medical Center [of Kansas City] have voted in favor of union representation [260-92].”
❖American Airlines lobbied for a law change to fight unionization. Under the old law, if 35% of workers signed a union card, then a vote had to be held to determine if the workers wanted to form a collective bargaining unit. American Airlines got that raised to 50% of workers. Communications Workers of America claims they got the 35% of America Airlines’ passenger service employees signed up before the law was changed and that the law wasn’t retroactive anyway. Stay tuned.
❖”For the first time since 2008, employers held positive outlooks on hiring in consecutive quarters in all four regions of the country and in all industries . . . Job growth puts Americans in a better position to increase spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.”
❖Professional licensing gives us assurance about the capability of people performing certain services. But is it also sometimes used to keep the number of those licensed restricted? ”[B]usinesses contorting regulation to their own benefit is so common that economists have a special name for it: regulatory capture.” Interesting case history involving traditional African hair braiding is included in the article.
❖22 states and the District of Columbia “have joined Montana in asking the Supreme Court to uphold the state’s ban on corporate expenditures in state elections.” And it’s quite a mix–from NY, CA, NV to ID and UT, to KY and MS, and so on. Local efforts are also ongoing and “dozens of localities [having] already approved similar resolutions.”
❖In NYC this year “more than 43,000 people, including a record 17,000 children, slept each night in municipal shelters”. Average stay in the shelters is now almost a year. Advocates contend the problem was exacerbated by cancellation of rental subsidies under the Bloomberg administration. There are now 8,000 people facing evictions as a result.
❖Last December, a group of Occupy Wall Street protestors went over a fence in an effort to occupy Duarte Square and set up operations there. Eight of them went on trial for trespassing yesterday. Altogether, there were 65 arrests, most of which were resolved through conditional dismissals.
❖Back to Quebec, where ”Lawyers for students, community groups and trade unions . . . asked a court
Tuesday to suspend an emergency law regulating protests after months of rallies over tuition hikes.” That law, Special Law 78, was passed quickly in May and requires protestors to give 8 hours’ advance notice about protest marches and has considerable associated fines.
❖Congressman Rand Paul (R-KY) has introduced a bill prohibiting “law enforcement from using unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct surveillance without a warrant.”
❖The US Supreme Court has turned down separate appeals by 7 Guantanamo prisoners, all involving habeas corpus. As Emptywheel so succinctly put it: ”This effectively kills habeas corpus.” They also refused to review an appeal by Jose Padilla.
❖”The Obama Administration Is Criminalizing
❖Article, including several videos, documenting what the youth of Mexico are doing in trying to defeat presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto of “the old authoritarian Institutional Revolutionary Party” or PRI.
❖Drones are all the rage right now, as we know. But why does the military want to use them in Latin America? “It’s not so much about having or using the armed capabilities in [Latin America] in the near-term as it is making sure the system doesn’t get pigeonholed as being just for Afghanistan or Iraq.” Surely there are more appropriate places to pigeonhole the things.
❖Netroots Nation as seen through the Eyes of Susie Sampson!