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Here’s some news to tide you over until Sunday evening. Have a great weekend!

International Developments

❖ “Imran Khan [cricket star turned politician] threatened by Taliban over planned [peace] march against US drones: Pakistani Taliban promise to kill politician if he marches through tribal areas on Afghan border as planned.”

CNN has mini-sketches of individuals in “Al-Assad’s inner circle”.

❖ “Veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi is expected to replace Kofi Annan as the U.N.-Arab League joint special envoy for Syria barring a last-minute change . . ..”

❖ “Afghan finance minister breaks down in tears as he denied corruption: Sources say Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal waved bank statements and tax receipts and begged for support at meeting with diplomats”

Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency and Ministry of Defense are being “legally challenged” for having supplied info for a US “kill list” in Afghanistan. The action has been initiated by an Afghan man “who lost five relatives in a missile strike.”

International Finance

British regulator Martin Wheatley will be responsible for overhauling rate-setting and imposing reforms in the wake of the Libor scandal. His recommendations are due in late September.

Barclays has appointed a new chairman–David Walker, “a senior banker who led the 2009 government inquiry into the rules governing how banks are run.” Sir David “is a senior advisor to the American bank Morgan Stanley [and before that] executive director of the Bank of England and deputy chairman of Lloyds Bank.” Sounds like Sir David is pretty steeped in this stuff.

❖ “China’s export and import growth slowed for the second straight month in July, raising fears about the strength of the world’s second-largest economy.”

Money Matters USA

❖ Why has so little been done about the mortgage scandal? According to Eileen Foster, former Countrywide employee and whistleblower, “The answer is partly that Wall Street has done everything in its considerable power to shred financial reform. But another big reason is that the Department of Justice has failed, inexplicably, to tap into the intelligence that financial whistleblowers like myself have tried to offer them.” Fascinating read.

❖ “U.S. authorities (Justice Dept and Securities and Exchange Commission) are investigating Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd, controlled by Las Vegas gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson, on possible violations of anti-bribery regulations . . ..”

Politics USA

❖ There were “leaks that undermined Israel’s case for war against Iran” and the House demanded investigations of the leaks. Then there was a leak that Iran was “closer to developing nukes than the US previously believed”–and no call for an investigation. And now another leak that “The United States still believes that Iran is not on the verge of having a nuclear weapon,” contrary to Israel’s position. Will there be a call for investigation of the latest leak?

❖ Politico “Exclusive: Obama to include Republicans in hard-hitting convention”. Wonder if they’ll include any hard-hitting progressives.

On the campaign trail in CO, Obama thumped Romney again for wanting to end tax credits for wind energy, pointing out that 5,000 jobs in CO were due to wind energy. He added, “Colorado, it is time to stop spending billions in taxpayer subsidies on an oil industry that’s already making a lot of profit, and keep investing in a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising.” Now, to hold him to that.

❖ This is a hoot: “Romney Visits Iowa ‘Farmer‘ Who Is Also A Millionaire Real Estate Mogul With A Spaceship House and Personal Car Wash”–though not equipped with a car elevator. The guy owns 54 soy and corn farms, and received $130,575 in federal conservation program payments.

❖ There was a little TX real estate deal in the 1980s in which Romney bought “five rent-to-own houses in [suburban] Houston”. The housing market collapsed, and he was stuck with the houses for years. The couple in one of the houses couldn’t afford to buy the house, so Romney loaned them the money.

❖ The Anaheim City Council rejected a ballot proposal creating voting districts in an effort to have the community more equitably represented on the Council. Two votes for (including the mayor) and three against. Instead, a “citizens advisory committee on elections and community involvement” will be created. Many in the crowd were angry and left chanting “We’ll be back.”

❖ Don’t you hate it when this happens? “Two years after the Franklin {TN}-based Tea Party Nation organization failed to lure tea party activists to a rally in Las Vegas, a judge is ordering the group to pay the bill for a slew of hotel rooms booked for the event.” The bill? Over $748,000.

Fareed Zakaria’s column in Time Magazine has been suspended for a month since Zakaria either plagiarized an article, or–somehow–paragraphs in his article “bear close similarities to paragraphs” in Jill Lepore’s earlier The New Yorker article on the same subject.

George Zimmerman’s defense hopes to have a “stand your ground” hearing. “Such hearings amount to mini-trials in which a portion . . . of evidence . . . is presented before a judge”, with the burden of proof on the defense. If the judge rules favorably, Zimmerman could avoid trial altogether and civil action as well.

Working for A Living

❖ In Philadelphia, stealing from employees often means you avoid any punishment. It’s called wage theft, which “can be anything from failing to pay promised wages to denying overtime, paying below minimum wage or requiring work off the clock.” Philadelphia is “a haven for predatory bosses looking to save on payroll,” due to lack of strong laws and/or insufficient enforcement resources.

❖ “A panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upheld rulings in 2010 and 2011 by a New Jersey federal judge that blocked [immigrant janitorial] workers from suing as a class, and rejected their claims that Wal-Mart acquiesced in illegal work conditions.”

The War on Women

MO Republican House member and Senate wanna-be, Todd Akin considers the morning-after pill abortion and thus wants it banned. He might be confusing the morning-after pill with the abortion-pill, but finer points like that are probably lost on him anyway.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

Program for the All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, in Baton Rouga, LA, provides an amazing array of interdisciplinary services that keep elderly people up, alert and feeling self-assured. It focuses on the Medicaid population, who usually have little alternative but the bleak and terminal prospect of “nursing” homes.

❖ Wouldn’t place any bets on it, but it’s worth watching. “The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., has agreed to hear Americans for Safe Access vs. Drug Enforcement Administration, which challenges the federal classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug.”

Super Gonorrhea. The gonorrhea bacterium has become so resistant to antibiotics that today only one works–injectable ceftriaxone, given in combo with azithromycin or doxycycline. Experts are deeply worried about this, since gonorrhea is fully expected to become resistant to ceftriaxone, too.

Latin America

❖ President Cristina Kirchner of Argentina has “condemned oil company YPF for spending 11 million pesos (1.9 million euros) a year paying off journalists while it was controlled by Spanish firm Repsol.” After Argentina nationalized YPF back in April and got into the books, the payments were found, supposedly hidden under ‘advertising’.

Mixed Bag

❖ RIP, David Rakoff–”writer, aesthete, genius, New York devotee, . . . exceptional reporter and observer, performer, director and incredibly kind person . . ..”

Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, who died in May, left a will which prohibits “the use of his music and ‘artistic property’ for advertising purposes . . ..”

❖ Which one of Dante’s rings of hell? A Georgetown, DE pediatrician tortured his 11-year old daughter using a form of waterboarding at least four times in two years. He and his wife are “charged with multiple counts of reckless endangering . . . and felony conspiracy.” The daughter and her younger sister are in the state’s Division of Family Services.

Break TIme

❖ Perfectly pointless video.