International Developments

❖ “Iran is rapidly gaining new capabilities to strike at U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf, amassing an arsenal of sophisticated anti-ship missiles while expanding its fleet of fast-attack boats and submarines, U.S. and Middle Eastern analysts say.” Officials are concerned “about U.S. vulnerabilities during the opening hours of a conflict in the gulf.”

❖ “12 UK lawmakers demand US to end drone attacks in Pak”

❖ “British pilots flew armed US drones in Libya, MoD reveals; Disclosure comes 10 months after end of a campaign in which the government insisted no British drones were involved.”

❖ “The UN chief has urged states to bridge differences ahead of [today's] deadline for the crafting of a new global agreement to control international arms sales.” That’s $60bn – $70bn annually! And which countries “have reservations”? The US, Russia and China, with “expressed concerns” from Syria, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Algeria.

Mitt’s Trip

❖ Mitt Romney “disclosed that he had a meeting with the chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, an admission that was seen as a gaffe in the United Kingdom.”

The UK Daily Mail on Mitt: “Who Invited Him?”

KKKKarl on Mitt’s Europe trip: “You have to shake your head.”

❖ UK gaffe chronicles, with pics, here, here and here.

And a PS: Not only did Mitt Romney have Winter Olympics 2002 lapel pins made with his face on them, but they were made in China.

International Economics

Great list of top bankers, economists and financial experts calling for breaking up the huge banks. Progressive figures are very well represented, of course, but there are some surprises, too. Check it out.

❖ “Spain’s jobless rate neared 25 percent in June [the beginning of the tourist season].” The rate among the young was a staggering 53%. 5.7 million people are unemployed.

Mario Draghi of the European Central Bank will be talking with Jens Weidmann of the Bundesband to see if they can’t reach agreement so “Europe’s rescue funds [can buy] government bonds on the secondary market to ensure transmission of its record-low interest rates . . ..” Yesterday Draghi brought this up to the press and the “Bundesbank responded today by reiterating its opposition to ECB bond purchases.” So, good luck with that.

Money Matters USA

❖ “Cuts proposed by House Republicans to programs designed to weed out waste and abuse within Social Security could end up costing taxpayers more in the long run than the spending cuts themselves are designed to save, according to the program’s chief actuary.” Figures.

Toll Brothers, PA-based “luxury homebuilder, with developments in Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties (CA)–has made it a regular practice to collect forfeited deposits from prospective homebuyers. In fact, it was the builder’s No. 1 source of profit during the down years of the housing market, according to a Maryland class action lawsuit.”

❖ They’re grabbing those cheap rental properties like hotcakes: “Cash buyers snap up 30 percent of houses sold this year in Sacramento”

Politics USA

❖ Since the only thing that matters is that Republicans get elected (and to heck with the myriad problems we the people have), OH Republican House Speaker John Boehner has told his group “cool your jets on the most politically volatile issues for now–we have an election to win.”

❖ The Federal Elections Commission may have thrown a monkey-wrench into the hiding of campaign donors’ names among 501[c]4s’ (e.g., KKKKarl’s Crossroads GPS, Americans for Prosperity, etc.) That’s because of a new FEC statement that “persons making disbursements for electioneering communications should report the name and address of each donor who donated an amount aggregating $1,000 or more”, effective March 30, 2012

❖ Using a predictive model, Kevin Drum estimates that Obama could win by a 51% – 51.5% majority.

❖ Former FL Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, in a 630-page deposition taken in regard to his trial on corruption charges, claims “political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting” in December, 2009.

WI state Representative Democrat Mark Pocan attended the American Legislative Exchange Council annual meeting and reported “that the organization was definitely ‘feeling the pressure’ of liberal and progressive groups.” Both Walgreen’s and General Motors have now “distanced themselves” from ALEC–a total of 30 corporations thus far.

Working for A Living

❖ “Walmart is facing accusations that the company is engaged in a bold and illegal campaign to stamp out union activity after firing five employees in recent months who were involved in a group organizing the company’s workers.”

Miami, FL “officials, who are seeking $40 million in union concessions, plan to declare ‘financial urgency’, which would allow [them] to unilaterally alter employee contracts . . ..”

The War on Women

❖ “Rapists Explain Themselves on Reddit, and We Should Listen”

In Fort Worth, TX, spousal abuse is so prevalent that “all the domestic violence shelters in Dallas County were full.” Shelters in Dallas and adjacent Tarrant Counties “have seen significant increase this summer in women who are fleeing abusive relationships. The record influx of women and children is straining the nonprofit agencies’ budgets . . ..”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ Simple shoplifting can get you inside a jail (three hots and a cot) and even medical attention, but this story is a couple steps further down Desperation Row. Fellow in NC walked into a bank, handed the teller a note demanding $1.00, then sat down and waited for the police. His plan? Three years in prison where he thinks he can get medical care for an “undiagnosed growth on his chest and two ruptured disks.”

❖ About 6% of uninsured children might be denied coverage under Obamacare “because of the government’s definition of ‘affordable’ coverage”, per the US Government Accountability Office. The GAO recommends that Treasury and the IRS work together on a revised definition so that the estimated 460,000 children affected are included in Obamacare.

❖ There’s been an alarming rise in HIV infections in the Philippines, with gay males “making up nearly 90 percent of all new cases.” Why? Unprotected sex, in a country that is 80% Catholic.

Heads Up!

❖ Kudos to Occupy Our Homes MN! “Bank of America Cancels Foreclosure Auction On Minnesota Home After Occupiers Take Action”. The owner had fought with BofA for five years because of a “bank error that dropped her from a loan modification program” and learned BoA was calling off the auction just days before it was scheduled to be held.

Planet Earth News

❖ “Ireland’s environmental protection agency has approved the first trial of a genetically modified potato crop.” Scientists say “the type of genetic modification used is akin to conventional breeding” and could increase resistance to potato blight. Others say there will be “‘grave ramifications’ for the country.” Just contrast the situation there to the typical US agency’s “gung-ho GMO” attitude.

Mixed Bag

❖ Seems like they’re punishing the victim: Zookeepers in Solo, Indonesia, “have moved an orangutan out of visitors’ sight so she’ll no longer smoke lit cigarettes people regularly throw into her cage.”

Break Time

“I’m Your Man”