Greetings! There’s a lot of anticipation about tomorrow’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, it seems. So, let’s wrap-up today’s news and prepare for tomorrow.

International Developments

❖ A Sky reporter in Syria interviewed a group of 30 former government soldiers, now prisoners of the Free Syrian Army.

Fighting inside the city of Damascus was described as the fiercest so far. Fighting is also on-going in Homs, Deir al-Zour and Idlib. A UN Security Council meeting will be held in Geneva Saturday with Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar also in attendance–no Iran or Saudi Arabia.

❖ “Syria on Wednesday stormed out of a UN debate on rights abuses in the conflict-torn country.

Amnesty International has said “three medics have been tortured and killed” after their arrest in Aleppo, Syria.

❖ “Iraq has suspended plans to close 44 media operations in the country, including the BBC and Voice of America, after an outcry by press freedom advocates, an official said Tuesday.” They were to be closed since they were overdue on paying fees and licenses had lapsed.

Kuwaitis protested “a court ruling that effectively dissolved a parliament dominated by opposition Islamists and reinstated the previous, more government-friendly assembly.” The action by the court is being called a coup.

❖ The martial law decree in Egypt was struck down by a court “after an outcry from rights groups. It sets back Egypt’s military rulers . . ..”

❖ “Gunmen driving a van packed with gas canisters firebombed the Athens headquarters of Microsoft on Wednesday”

Queen Elizabeth II shook hands with Martin McGuinness, former commander of the Irish Republican Army and now Deputy First Minister of Ireland.

International Economics

❖ German Chancellor Angela Merkel is opposed to issuing common bonds “to fight the euro zone crisis before agreeing to tough new budget controls.” She did open the door a wee bit for using “proposed financial transactions tax . . . to boost growth and competitiveness in struggling euro countries.”

Cyprus will be bailed out by the eurozone.

Spain’s situation is worsening, with economic output “shrinking at a faster pace” in the 2nd quarter of this year.

By manipulating global interest rates between 2005-9, Barclay’s also manipulated “the costs of hundreds of trillions of dollars in loans” for education, cars and houses. Barclay’s is to pay the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission $200 million in civil penalties, the U.S. Justice Department $160 million and $93 million to Britain.

Politics USA

Northrop Grumman is faced with cost overruns in existing programs and threatened DOD budget cut-backs. What to do? Well, one of Northrop Grumman’s vice presidents was sent to work for the House Armed Services Committee under Republican Representative Buck MCKeon (CA). The pay is low, but there are ways around that.

Stockton, CA will be filling for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. “The collapse of the housing market left Stockton with mounting . . . costs and eroding tax dollars . . . One in every 195 homes in Stockton’s metropolitan area received a foreclosure filing in May, the fifth-highest rate in the U.S. . . ..”

Vernon, CA, in the news a while back for the the exorbitant salaries of four top city officials and which made bad investments that almost destroyed it, has had to raise electricity rates and wants to raise taxes. This has instantly soured the large corporate interests which flourished there in the past and they are threatening to leave.

❖ Now the lead detective in the Zimmerman-Martin case “has been reassigned to the patrol division at his request.” Update: In documents released by the prosecution, the lead detective, Chris Serino, reportedly thought that, had Zimmerman just talked to Martin, the violent confrontation could have been avoided.

Impact of Stand Your Ground laws? A significant increase in homicide among whites, particularly white males.

Hackers have shown The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Aviation Administration how drones can be hijacked and controlled remotely with ease. Kinda reminiscent of the voting machine controversies.

❖ A US District Judge in FL has denied the US Department of Justice’s request to halt removal of non-citizens from the voter rolls in the state.

Voter suppression “is alive and well in Iowa”, thanks to reinstatement of a “long and laborious process that prevents more released felons from voting”. The case history used is quite an eye-opener.

❖ “Top Republican Senators are pressing the Justice Department to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the disclosure of classified national security information, saying the current probe lacks integrity.”

❖ President Obama will go to Colorado on Friday to view wildfire devastation, including Waldo Canyon.

War on Women

❖ The Senate’s vote on the flood insurance bill has now been held up by Republican Sen. Rand Paul (KY) who has attached an amendment that states life begins at conception. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) seems fed up and is threatening no vote at all if the amendment is not dropped. Emily’s List denounced Republicans “for ‘their obsession with rolling the clock back on women.’”

She was raped, reported her attack to the Tampa, FL police, was arrested (due to a previous incident), and was denied Plan B by a jail employee who claimed her religious beliefs wouldn’t allow her to dispense the medication. A judge has ruled the rape victim can sue for being denied the medication.

Health & Hunger

❖ “Corn supplies in the U.S., the world’s biggest exporter, are declining at the fastest pace since 1996 just as a Midwest heat wave damages the world’s largest harvest for a third consecutive year.”

❖ Paralyzed from the neck down, a 16-yo in foster care in TX is fighting for a mechanized ceiling lift to enable him to get in a chair or bathtub. “Superior Health, a unit of Centene Corp. . . that covers about 800,000 Texas Medicaid recipients” has denied coverage for the lift. “[This story] shows how states may be limiting patients’ benefits by outsourcing Medicaid . . ..” Others, such as WellCare Health Plans, Amerigroup Corp., “operate under loophole-ridden standards, some earn poor grades on quality and many spend less of their revenue on care than commercial insurers do . . ..”

BPA, that stuff they use to line packaging for food and beverages, has now been linked to brain tumors as well as “reproductive disorders, obesity, diabetes, and cancers . . . of the breast and prostate.”

Planet Earth News

❖ The White House is “preparing to open additional areas of the Arctic Ocean to oil and gas exploration.” Rest assured, though: “a few of the most sensitive areas [will be] placed off limits . . . ” though the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas are due to be leased later. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar offers this comforting thought: “I believe there’s not going to be an oil spill.” Wonder if he believes Santa Claus will bring him a pony for Christmas, too.

Break Time

❖ Been around for awhile, but it makes as much sense about the eurozone crisis now as it did then.