❖ “With violence reaching new heights in Syria, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a 30-day extension of the monitor mission . . . throwing what amounted to a thin lifeline to Kofi Annan . . . to save his paralyzed peace plan from total irrelevance.” The Syrian government is claiming they have ousted rebel forces in part of Damascus. Meanwhile, refugees are pouring out of Syria,
❖ Seems the “U.S. military is preparing to give more than $100 million in counterterrorism and security aid to” Yemen for its “battle against an al-Qaeda affiliate.”
❖ Too bad we can’t import some of this. “French lawmakers Thursday backed a series of measures abolishing tax breaks and taxing the wealthy as the new Socialist government pursued efforts to kickstart the economy with a tax-and-spend programme.”
❖ Peter Doyle, “former adviser to the IMF’s European Department, which is running the bailout programs for Greece, Portugal and Ireland,” has heaped “scorn on its ‘tainted leadership and said he is ‘ashamed’ to have worked there.”
Money Matters USA
❖ I’m sure we feel their pain. “Lenders like Bank of America Corp and Wells Fargo & Co say they are facing mounting pressure to buy back bad mortgages they sold to investors, signaling that banks’ home-loan headaches could continue for years.”
❖ Although they lined up “to condemn the ongoing war in Afghanistan as a waste of lives and money”, the US House of Representatives approved $606 billion in defense spending for the coming year.
❖ “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday said lawmakers have made significant progress on an online sales tax measure, and predicted it could even pass Congress this year.”
❖ Does targeted killing of a US citizen violate the Constitution? “Things got a little crazy when the Senate Judiciary Committee FISA Amendment Markup turned to targeted killing.” John Cornyn wanted an amendment forcing the administration to reveal its authorization. Chuck Grassley was in support, but “Democrats prevented Cornyn and Grassley from attaching legislation mandating the Administration share the authorization with Congress.”
❖ Undocumented immigrant, Sergio Garca, is trying to be admitted to the State Bar of California; his case is before the CA Supreme Court. “50 immigration law professors have signed on to an amicus brief in support” of Garcia’s case.
❖ NY Republican House of Representatives member Michael Grimm is under federal grand jury investigation for possible campaign finance violations.
❖ ACLU-AZ “has released thousands of emails it says prove that SB1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration law, was racially motivated.” The emails come from the in- and out-box of the author of SB1070, AZ Republican Senate President Russell Pearce.
❖ A federal judge in TN has ordered Rutherford County, TN, officials to “stop blocking worshipers from occupying their newly-built mosque . . ..”
❖ Elizabeth Warren is being considered as keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, this year. (NJ Republican Gov Chris Christie is being considered for keynote speaker for the Republican Convention, in starkest contrast.)
❖ Oh, the sighs of relief! Ex-President George W. Bush will not attend the GOP National Convention.
Working for A Living
❖ Two-thirds of “low-wage workers are employed by large businesses with over 100 employees.” 50 of those large businesses are doing very well–92% made profits last year, executive compensation was $9.4 million, on average and $174.8 billion was distributed “to shareholders in dividend or share buybacks in the past five years.”
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
❖ Since they haven’t done enough to deny women health care, hungry Americans food stamps and other humane services for the needy among us, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee now “have inserted in to a broad appropriations bill language that would block funding for a Labor Department effort to reduce the occurrence of black lung, the disease that afflicts coal miners exposed to excessive mine dust.”
❖ “All of a sudden, around the early 1980s we started to see tons of families who were there because of poverty. . . . It was the gutting of the safety net. Reagan cut every social program that helped the poor. Then there’s inflation so their aid checks are shrinking. Where are they going? Into the streets, into the shelters.” Excellent article on the phenomenon of homelessness that has engulfed many families and individuals in the US of A.
❖ Medicare patients are being re-admitted to acute care hospitals at too high a frequency–one in five are readmitted within a month of discharge. There is debate over the possible reasons for the rate of readmission, but Medicare will begin imposing penalties this October.
❖ “A diverse crew of Internet businesses, advocacy groups, and lawmakers has banded together to create something called the Internet Defense League . . . [which] seeks to save the ‘Net from bad laws like SOPA.”
❖ It’s a humanitarian aid effort “that uses civil disobedience to challenge the US blockade and travel ban” that has nearly 100 tons of stuff they are trying to get to Cuba. It’s the “20th Anniversary Friendshipment Caravan organized by Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization/Pastors for Peace, which crisscrossed the US and Canada” on its way to Mexico and, then, Cuba.
❖ Are you listening, Ray Kelly? “The chair of the Toronto Police Services Board apologized to lawful G20 protestors Thursday at a meeting where the civilian board considered recommendations contained in a report that found the board could have exercised more oversight of the force.”
Planet Earth News
❖ “A newly discovered water source in Namibia could have a major impact on development in the driest country in subSahan Africa.” The aquifer “could last for centuries.”
❖ In Brazil, Guarani leader Nisio Gomes, led some of his people back to their land after they’d been evicted by ranchers, but armed gunmen broke into their camp, killed Mr. Gomes and made off with his body. Brazilian authorities have arrested 18 people, 10 working for a private security firm, and another 8, 6 of whom were landowners suspected of masterminding the attack.
❖ In Guyana, protestors torched a local electricity plant and the offices of the governing PPC party. Protestors say “rampant poverty makes it impossible for them to pay more” for electricity. Police fired bullets into the crowd and killed at least three.
❖ The Nasa, indigenous peoples caught between Colombian forces and FARC, have been trying to get both to leave their lands. They stormed a FARC camp last week, demanding FARC leave. Now they’ve tried to occupy an army post on a mountain top to get the army to leave. Instead, Colombia’s President Santos has responded “Troops have the firm order not to give up one centimeter . . . of national territory.”
❖ RIP Tom Davis, comedy partner of Al Franken.
❖ What does space smell like?