What better topic for a Sunday evening than Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s address to the graduating class of Harvard Divinity School on this day in 1838? Himself a former Unitarian minister, Emerson expounded before the class (of seven graduates, though six were actually in attendance that day) his opinion that Jesus was a great man, but not God, and disparaged Biblical miracles. The reaction was immediate and Emerson was even accused of being–gasp!–an atheist. Emerson was reportedly “completely surprised by the negative outburst which followed” his address–and wasn’t invited back to Harvard for another 30 years.

International Developments

❖ “The Red Cross (ICRC) says fighting in Syria has become so widespread that the conflict is now in effect a civil war.” Apparently, this pronouncement means “combatants will now be officially subject to the Geneva Conventions, leaving them more exposed to war crimes prosecutions.”

❖ “Protestors threw tomatoes and shoes at U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s motorcade on Sunday during her first visit to Egypt since the election of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.”

International Economics

❖ Give a listen to DDay discussing Libor on AlterNet radio. Yay!

❖ Trembling in their boots? “In a memo sent to staff yesterday evening . . . the nine members of [Barclays'] executive committee warned that the Libor crisis should not distract them from the core task of safeguarding Barclays’ vast balance sheet. ‘The macro-environment remains febrile, especially in Europe. We have to remain vigilant on balance sheet exposures . . . ‘” etc.

❖ U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Burma’s Thein Sein while at “a conference on US investment in Southeast Asia”. Members of her delegation, btw, included reps “from Google, General Electric and FedEx . . ..” She did mention “human rights and workers rights and high labor standards . . ..”

JPMorgan’s Fail Whale episode which has cost $5.8 billion and may go as high as $7 billion, has caused its profits to drop by 9%.

❖ “[French] President Francois Hollande on Saturday denounced a plan by carmaker PSA Peugeot-Citroen to cut 8,000 jobs as unacceptable and said it must be renegotiated.” !

Politics USA

❖ “A complicated and mostly unorganized effort to get photo identification for all Pennsylvania voters is under way statewide in a rush to comply with the new voter ID law . . .” Over 750,000 voters are directly affected.

❖ Unbelievable: “Florida state health officials have denied they covered up a sharp spike in tuberculosis infections among the homeless in Jacksonville and said the public was not at risk from what is believed to be the worst TB outbreak in the nation in 20 years”. 13 deaths, 99 more diagnosed and an additional 3,000 exposed!

❖ “A three-judge federal panel deciding the fate of Texas’ new voter identification law grilled the state’s lawyer in closing arguments on Friday and suggested that the controversial legislation would disproportionately hurt racial minorities.” Interesting questions that they asked.

❖ The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is bringing suit against the state and a Detroit-area school district for failure to do “their jobs” and teach children how to read. 90% of 12th graders in the school district fail “the reading portion of the final state test administered in high school.” Almost all the students are African’American.

❖ “With severe overcrowding easing in state lockups, California is winding down a controversial deal with the nation’s biggest private prison operator and will bring thousands of inmates housed in facilities as far away as Mississippi back to California within the next few years.”

❖ Not with a bang, but with a whimper. Ron Paul just didn’t get enough Nebraska delegates to be nominated.

❖ “A Republican state Senate candidate in Iowa has decided to bow out of the race and become a U.S. senator of an alternative form of government.” Er, that would be “U.S. Senator in the Republic of the United States of America” since what we know as the US government is clearly not!

Money Matters USA

❖ According to the Congressional Budget Office, “if the Budget Control Act’s automatic spending cuts take effect, the Pentagon’s budget, in 2013 dollars, will still be larger than what it was in 2006, a finding that undermines claims that sequestration will be ‘devastating’ to the military and the defense industry.” The entire CBO report is here.

❖ “Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. has become the first major insurance company to say it won’t cover damage related to a gas drilling process that blasts chemical-laden water deep into the ground [fracking]“.

Baltimore has emerged “as an aggressive watchdog against the misdeeds of multinational banks.” Baltimore settled a suit with Wells Fargo last Thursday (discrimination against black and Latino mortgage borrowers) and is also involved in “a class action suit against a group of financial firms worldwide” for keeping “a key interest rate benchmark low . . .”

❖ Disturbing story about a trailer park in Santa Monica, its elderly residents and the aspirations of its owners to build a snazzy bunch of condominiums on the property.

Heads Up!

❖ “Chalk-protest arrest proves costly for Orlando tax-payers”. He was arrested for writing “protest messages in front of City Hall” on the sidewalk. He sued. He’s been awarded $6000 in damages and $35,000 for the three attorneys representing him. The City of Orlando paid $83,293 to one legal firm and $72,070 to another to fight the protestor’s lawsuit.

Occupy Delaware has won the “right to maintain its eight-month tent occupation” of a local plaza in the City of Wilmington. They will temporarily vacate the space in September so the plaza can be renovated.

❖ Well, all right. Occupy Bohemian Grove: “Bohemian Grove, where the world’s most elite men meet in secrecy every year. . . . While strange rituals are performed, the elite discuss their plans.”

Planet Earth News

40 “food businesses and retailers . . . family farm, consumer and environmental groups representing over one million members” have written to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Agriculture demanding that biotech riders that have been inserted into the Farm Bill be removed. They argue those provisions “would eliminate meaningful USDA oversight, create backdoor approvals for the controversial 2,4-D corn and other GE crops, and legal levels of transgenic pollution.”

❖ This is wonderful: “Elderly Bees Discovered The Fountain Of Youth”

❖ In order to protect “migrating blue, fin and humpback whales” that come close to shore seeking krill and then run afoul of huge propellers of cargo ships, “federal maritime officials have approved [alternate ship lanes] whereby ship traffic will be rerouted to avoid the giant mammals.

❖ Well, that didn’t last long. Apple has reversed itself and is now back with EPEAT, “which rates goods based [on] eco-friendliness and ease of recyclability after use.

Latin America

Draft report on the Paraguay situation from the Organization of American States has been divisive. Here’s the score: In favor – “US, Canada, Mexico and some Central American countries”; Opposed – “Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Uruguay, Nicaragua and Bolivia.”

❖ Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on the differences between the path chosen by Brazil and that of the eurozone. “Our path means keeping our development and increasingly trying to guarantee that the bonuses, advantages and profits of such development will be distributed among the Brazilian people.”

❖ Uh-oh. “Mexican prosecutors raid warehouse as part of vote-buying investigation.”

Break Time

This happy thing has gone viral, it seems, and I almost missed it. Just making sure you don’t.