Good news! You have the entire weekend to recover from your mid-week holiday.

International Developments

❖ “Thousands of families in Syria had fled their homes in the past two weeks due to heavy fighting . . . Food prices have tripled in parts of seven provinces where the livelihoods of farmers and livestock herders are at risk of collapse because the wheat harvest is being delayed by a shortage of diesel . . . ” and on and on goes the suffering.

❖ As the war in Syria grinds on, so does the war of words between the super-powers, including Moscow’s statement that the ‘Western position on Syria . . . could aggravate the situation to the point of war.” Reactions to the Russian statement have included this one: “Canada joined the U.S. in launching a diplomatic salvo against Russia on Friday. . . Canada is ‘horrified’ by Syrian President Bashar Assad” and so on.

❖ Following US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personally-delivered apology, Pakistan is again allowing trucks to cart supplies for NATO troops through Pakistan to Afghanistan. Jim White explains that the US will be rebuilding roads in Pakistan, instead of paying the $50,000/container fee–and the Taliban are pleased “because their supply of cash [from NATO and the International Security Assistance Force] will now also re-open”.

❖ “A New Zealand prosecutor working with U.S. authorities hoping to extradite MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom said Thursday that a judge and defense attorneys do not have the right to see the prosecution’s evidence against Dotcom because he’s not facing trial in the country.”

❖ Why are they doing this? “Navy plans $40 million fiber-optic link to Guantanamo base” from an “undisclosed link in South Florida” Particularly since they are also doing this: “US administration considers turning Taliban detainees over to Afghanistan” which would “send several Taliban detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to a prison in Afghanistan . . ..

International Economics

❖ “IMF to Cut Global Growth Forecasts in Another Blow to Confidence”. What confidence? Anyway, the not-so-rosy prediction shows “how quickly the world economy has deteriorated.” Or how slowly they’ve been willing to admit it.

❖ ProPublica has put together a neat primer on the Libor scandal, laying it out clearly and succinctly.

❖ Robert Scheer: “Modern international bankers form a class of thieves the likes of which the world has never before seen. Or, indeed, imagined.” Much more.

❖ The “UK has spent more on saving banks in a year than it had on science ‘since Jesus’.”

❖ “‘Stressed’ Bank of England official stabbed self to death . . . [in April] . . . due to the over-whelming pressure he was under at work . . ..”

❖ This is getting mean as can be: “[UK Prime Minister] David Cameron ‘prepared to halt immigration of Greeks into UK’.

❖ “Portugal’s Constitutional Court has struck down a key part of the government’s deficit-cutting programme–limiting “extra holiday and Christmas pay for public sector workers.”

❖ President Obama “has pledged to get tougher on China’s trade policies” and the US has “filed a complaint against China with the World Trade Organization over tariffs on American-made automobile exports . . ..”

❖ The Vatican has a $19 million deficit, said to be the worst ” in years”.

Money Matters USA

❖ Insult to injury: “Rich corporations with money offshore want a tax holiday; Sen. Carl Levin says, ‘I want them to pay their taxes like the rest of us’”. It would be nice if they did have to pay taxes like “the rest of us”–without all those subsidies and loopholes and write-offs and overseas stashes.

❖ “Retailers post worst June sales in three years. Sales rose only 0.1%, much less than the 0.5% Wall Street wanted.

Politics USA

❖ How Mitt Romney ended up with an IRA worth about $100 million and why most everybody else never will.

❖ Former AZ Governor and US Ambassador Raul Hector Castro, 96 years old now, was detained by US border agents in 100 degree heat last month. Not the first time this has happened to him, either.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ According to the US Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, Texas ranks worst in the nation in health care services and delivery.

❖ Interactive map showing how the Medicaid expansion could impact each state

❖ The US Center for Disease Control & Prevention estimates around 25% of adults are mentally ill–almost two-thirds don’t seek treatment “and racial and ethnic minorities are even less likely to get help.”

❖ Case in point? “Alabama pastor holds ‘whites only’ conference.” They’re even going to “light up” a cross at the end to prove their love for Jaysus or sumpthin’.

Working for A Living

❖ Every once in a while justice is done. At least the employees ended up with better compensation. Can’t help but wonder about the status of the patients, though.

❖ Those dedicated workers at the former Republic Windows and Doors continue their struggle to save their cooperative. They were given a chance to buy the factory equipment by the former employer, who has now yanked the rug out from under them and, instead, will sell the machines today. There’s a connection to one Rahm Emanuel in this mess, and there is also a petition drive linked in the article, if you’re interested.

Planet Earth News

❖ “World Atomic Output Falls by Record [4.3%] in Fukushima Aftermath”

❖ From the New York Times Op-Ed on fracking: If Congress would “lift the regulatory exemptions” now in place, federal minimum requirements over the process could be set, which are estimated to add 7% to drilling costs.

❖ As we learned on the 4th, Congress needs to “extend a key tax credit for wind producers“, set to expire at the end of the year. One large wind turbine manufacturer in PA already plans “to furlough 165 workers at two plants starting this fall.”" Meanwhile, tax credits for oil and gas industries are permanent.

Latin America

Another candidate in Mexico’s recent presidential elections has added her voice to the concern that “campaign spending violations had marred the vote . . ..” Update: The recount has now been completed and Pena Nieto’s win confirmed. Nonetheless, legal challenges are still possible.

❖ Seems there’ve been so many arrests, extraditions to the US, and so on that there just couldn’t be that many “high-level” military and politicians left in Colombia: “Colombia ex-general pleads not guilty in drug case” after being arraigned in US District Court in Alexandria.

Mixed Bag

❖ RIP, Josephine “Ann” Harris, owner of Ann’s Place in Akron.

Break Time

Some skin to contemplate over the weekend.

Enjoy yourselves! See you back here Sunday evening.