Good evening, all! A few things other than the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act did happen today, and here they are:
❖ Stephen Gray is “a Reuters special correspondent who has written a series of articles exposing mismanagement in Greek banks.” Seems Mr. Gray is being followed around Athens by security firm spies, who obviously aren’t too clever since they got caught. Piraeus Bank is currently engaged in a lawsuit against Reuters and, when asked about the spying on Mr. Gray, issued a rather huffy statement.
❖ Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy: “Spain cannot afford to finance itself for long at current rates.”
❖ “Britain’s recession is deeper than thought as official data on Thursday show the economy shrank 0.3 percent in the first quarter following a higher-than-expected 0.4 percent contraction in late 2011.”
❖ Germany’s unemployment stats for June are now out–7,000 more people were added to the unemployment rolls, yielding a rate of 6.8%. This is the third month in a row with increasing unemployment.
Money Matters USA
❖ Interesting what’s going on in the medical/health industry, and will now no doubt accelerate: 1) Consolidation through acquisitions within the provider and insurance industries, 2) Creation of combined industries with insurers buying providers and vice versa, and 3) Growth in “accountable-care organizations” (a plus, so long as they’re used for our benefit).
❖ Oh, lordy, whatever have we done to deserve this? “Robert Murdoch snubs Britain and says he will invest his billions in the US: News Corp chairman tells Fox he has ‘moved on’ after abandoning BSkyB bid amid phone-hacking sandal.” BTW, Murdoch is splitting Fox News and Fox Entertainment.
❖ Philip Falcone, hedge fund billionaire who successfully betted against packaged mortgage securities, has been busted by The Securities and Exchange Commission for “taking $113 million from a fund [Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners] to pay his [personal] taxes.
❖ “As president, Mitt will nominate judges in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito,’ reads the ‘Courts & The Constitution section of Romney’s campaign website.” Here’s the relevant website page (last paragraph), though perhaps it’ll be changed by the time you get there.
❖ Hilarious series of tweets Republicans made before they realized reports that the individual mandate was overturned were wrong.
❖ Popcorn time! Back in March, Bill O’Reilly promised to ‘apologize for being an idiot’ if the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate.
❖ Think it’s time to end universal suffrage? Some guy in Aspen does.
❖ There’s a follow-up report on that story yesterday about the federal judge who’s allowing Fl Republican Gov Rick Scott’s voter purge to go forward. Summary: “Judge Hinkle is simply wrong.”
Working for A Living
❖ “Thousands of federal firefighters charged with taming the [wildfires] do not have health insurance.” They are the ones who are classified as temporary employees, working about half a year. “Under federal regulations, temporary employees of the Forest Service do not receive benefits. That means no health care and no retirement pension.”
❖ “The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued a hazard alert that urges employers in hydraulic fracturing operations to take appropriate steps to protect workers from silica exposure.” Last month, the AFL-CIO, United Mineworkers and United Steelworkers wrote a letter to the agency “urging they act to protect workers in these operations”.
❖ Michael Cooper was subjected to “severe harassment at a scrap car dealership where he was working in Fayetteville, Georgia”, “racially taunted by his employer and some of his co-workers to a degree” straight out of the Jim Crow era. Awful stuff. Most sobering part is that this made the news because Michael Cooper is the grandson of Ann Nixon Cooper, 107, who was specially cited by President Obama in his election night victory speech.
Planet Earth News
❖ Hey, no prob. So says ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson. Our “fears about climate change, drilling, and energy dependence are overblown.” Oh, he knows “burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet, but said society will be able to adapt.” Where do they find these people?
❖ A federal appeals court in DC “knocked down efforts by Texas and others to halt government action against global warming.” “[T]he EPA was ‘unambiguously correct’ in asserting its authority to regulate climate-changing gases from tailpipes and industrial smokestacks.”
❖ “After Rio, we know. Governments have given up on the planet: The post-summit pledge [to pursue 'sustained growth'] was an admission of defeat against consumer capitalism. But we can still salvage the natural world.”
❖ Greenpeace is upset by the “‘sinful alliance’ between Venezuela and the United States responsible for the failure of the efforts made during the Rio+20 summit to set the Oceans Rescue Plan for the High Seas in motion and launch negotiations leading to an international treaty.”
❖ “The Battle Over Climate Science: Climate scientists routinely face death threats, hate mail, nuisance lawsuits and political attacks.” How much worse can it get?”
❖ Yuck! US beaches make about 3.5 million people ill annually since they “are plagued by a sobering legacy of water pollution, including bacteria-laden human and animal waste.”
❖ On average, German solar installations cost $2.24/watt (2012), while in the US the average price was $4.44/watt (2011) .
❖ That 6-day strike by Bolivian police has ended with a “modest pay increase” agreement. Simultaneously, many indigenous people from the Amazon “entered [La Paz] to protest President Evo Morales’ plans to build a jungle highway through a forest preserve.”
❖ The Organization of American States’ Inter-American Human Rights “will look into the facts surrounding the  Colombian Air Force’s bombing of Santo Domingo, a village . . . in the northeastern department of Arauca . . . [where] ‘a cluster device’ exploded in the village, after which Colombian security agents ‘continued, from the air, to bomb civilians who were trying to assist the wounded and attempting to escape.’” The Colombian government is claiming FARC did the bombing.
❖ A communal grave in Colombia has been excavated, yielding the bodies of the leader of the Zenu people (who can be traced to 200 BC) and two of his sons. They, and others, were believed killed by a drug cartel a year ago. Excavations are continuing.
❖ Venezuelan authorities have “seized 20 tons of liquid cocaine aboard a ship headed for Mexico.”
❖ “A secretive unit inside Mexico’s predominant television network set up and funded a campaign for Enrique Pena Nieto, who is the favorite to win Sunday’s president election, according to people familiar with the operation and documents seen by the Guardian.” Videos commissioned by Nieto and the PRI and trashing his rivals were widely distributed.
❖ “A Brazilian court has sentenced a retired army colonel to pay damages for the torture and death of a journalist 41 years ago during Brazil’s long military dictatorship.” The fine? $25,000 each to the tortured journalist’s wife and his sister.
❖ Photographic history of Oak Ridge. Much of the Manhattan Project work went on there.