Welcome! Here’s today’s news Roundup for you. Please link to news items of interest that you’ve seen and would like to share.
❖ 39 people died in violence across Syria today, including 28 soldiers. UN observers said “they were ‘morally obliged’ to stay in the country despite the risks”, although operations are suspended given the current level of violence.
❖ According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, both the Syria government and the rebels “have agreed [to] a temporary truce to allow civilians to be evacuated from the city of Homs.” The ICRC is supposed to enter the worst-hit parts of the city for two hours, but has not yet been allowed to do so.
❖ Antonis Samaras of the New Democracy Party was sworn in as prime minister of Greece today. Although he has forged a coalition with the socialist Pasok and the Democratic Left parties, “the new coalition is expected to face immediate pressure from an austerity-weary Greek public.”
❖ Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak “reportedly clinging to life in military hospital”.
❖ At the end of the G20 summit, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa “pledged to increase their contributions to the International Monetary Fund . . ..” And then there’s this interesting statement: “The funds . . . indicate how fragile many fear the economic situation in Europe to be . . ..”
❖ “World Leaders Make Little Headway in Solving Debt Crisis” at the G20. A plan is supposed to be presented at next week’s “European summit meeting in Brussels”, Angela Merkel seemed buoyed by Greek election results, and President Obama’s efforts to get agreement on a pro-growth agenda seemingly went nowhere.
❖ “‘We have got to a point where we’re at a complete standstill,’ said . . . the president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce.” 68,000 Greek businesses are gone with an additional 36,000 expected to close in the next year. Business owners can’t get credit and can’t afford to pay taxes on what they’re selling. Chinese suppliers do offer credit, and are stepping in. Medical services and prescriptions drugs are not being reimbursed by the government.
❖ There’s an outburst from French business interests against new President Francois Hollande’s plans “to raise taxes and impose other restrictions on employers . . ..” Apparently, some of the blame can be laid at the feet of British Prime Minister David Cameron who said “he would ‘roll out the red carpet’ to welcome French businesses fleeing the new regime.”
❖ “The Economic History of the Last 2,000 Years in 1 Little Graph”
Working for A Living
❖ After the House committee meeting was over yesterday, Jamie Dimon was confronted by Adriana Vasquez, SEIU member, single mother of three, 5-hours/day worker earning $8.35/hour as a janitor in the JPMorgan Chase Tower in Houston. “Despite making billions last year, why do you deny the people cleaning your buildings a living wage?” she asked.
❖ Half of US jobs now pay $34,000 or less/year, a quarter pay less than $22,000. Food Stamps are the only income for 6 million people.
❖ That famous 1984 photo showing Mitt Romney and founder-friends, with money stuffed into their shirts and mouths as they launched Bain Capital, is, well, coming home to haunt the candidate. The Obama campaign is using the photo so effectively that one of the founder-friends complained, “We’re the poster children for class warfare now.” Lots more at the link.
❖ President Obama’s campaign lawyer has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission arguing that Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS “can no longer shield the identity of its donors by defining itself as a ‘social welfare’ organization.” Rove’s group, of course, is fighting this. ‘Social welfare organization’?
❖ Lawsuits against FL Republican Gov Rick Scott’s purging of voter rolls are mounting. One yesterday was filed by a group of voting rights organizations and was aimed at efforts to disqualify Hispanics: “61 percent of the 2,700 people on a ‘purge list’ . . . were Hispanic.”
❖ FL voters support Gov. Rick Scott’s voter purges by 60%, according to a recent poll, although only 39% of them approve of Scott’s overall performance. Update: Not so fast, says Tim Murphy. “The problem is that the question [about voter purges] doesn’t accurately describe the program.”
❖ PA Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s approval ratings are on a downward spiral in reaction to his austerity measures (education cuts and chemical refinery credits)–only 36% approve.
❖ Former AL Gov. Don Siegelman’s supporters are urging President Obama to grant Siegelman a pardon.
❖ Former UT Governor and Republican Presidential candidate contender John Huntsman, has joined Brookings Institution.
❖ He’s accused of 51 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. Wednesday, defense lawyers “for Jerry Sandusky abruptly rested their case . . . without calling the former Penn State University assistant football coach to the stand.”
❖ Change.org, a for-profit progressive online company, “has dropped two anti-union clients, including Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst . . .” and Stand for Children, in part due to “intense pressure from the labor movement and other progressive allies.”
❖ From the LA Times: “Immigrants hoping to qualify for Obama program urged to gather data: Activists advise possible participants to document their histories in the United States and be wary of unscrupulous consultants who are already trying to exploit the undocumented.”
❖ Nuns on a Bus stopped in Janesville, WI, yesterday and delivered their concerns to Republican US House Rep. Paul Ryan’s office. Later, in Milwaukee, they ate at St. Ben’s, had a “Friend Raiser” at St. John’s and got off the bus at 9:00 pm to join in the Overpass Light Brigade (nice pics).
❖ A former TSA agent didn’t like the aggressive “pat-down” she received at the airport, so complained to her former supervisor and “patted-down” the former supervisor to demonstrate the procedure she’d just endured. She was arrested and charged with battery.
❖ “Study: Chemicals in baby soaps can trigger marijuana-positive drug tests”. Two chemicals are responsible, “and both are used in hundreds of products like toothpaste, shampoo, makeup, hair dye and household cleaning agents.” Makes one wonder about the cheaper drug tests routinely used by employers and police.
Health & Hunger
❖ US Prescription data between 2002-2010 show that medications for children (under the age of 18): increased by 46% for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; decreased 42% for cough-and-cold conditions; decreased 14% for antibiotics; and increased 14% for asthma. There was a whopping 93% increase for contraceptives for youth.
❖ The US Supreme Court might strike down the Affordable Care Act provision that people must buy health insurance. Nonetheless, some argue the fines in the ACA are not high enough to force people to buy insurance. In addition, there is a failure to convince the American people that the Affordable Care Act is in their best self-interest.
❖ “Looking to avoid Obama’s drone ‘kill list’? Add yourself to ‘do not kill registry’ . . . ”
❖ “Original recipe for Jack Daniel’s found in Welsh book of herbal remedies”. I’ll drink to that.
❖ The US Department of Homeland Security is set to seize a Mongolian Tyrannosaurus Bataar! From the Gobi Desert, it was illegally taken from Mongolia and was auctioned off recently in NY. DHS will be returning it to its native land.
❖ World leaders may have assembled in Rio+20, discussed, dithered and done not-much, but the world’s peoples were there, richly represented, and with the enthusiasm you’d expect from the awake and aware.