Greetings to all you Firepups on this late Tuesday afternoon.

International Developments

Syria updates: Leaflets dropped on Damascus urge handing over of weapons or “inevitable death”. Air strikes in Kanfranbel, massacre reports in Darayya, and refugees streaming into Jordan.

❖ An Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander is reported to have said that Iranian soldiers have been sent to reinforce the Syrian army.

❖ “US troops escape criminal charges for incidents that outraged Afghanistan: Burning of Qur’ans and urinating on corpses in Afghanistan led to allegations against six US army soldiers and three marines.” Many of the troops involved have reportedly “received administrative punishments” and been disciplined, with further punishments expected.

❖ “The Gaza Strip will not be liveable by 2020″, the UN reports The current population of 1.6 million is expected to increase to 2.1 million by 2020, while provision of water, sanitation, health care and education has not kept pace.

Rachel Corrie, US citizen, went to Israel and was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while trying to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home. Her family sued. An Israeli judge has ruled that her death was not caused by negligence on the part of the Israeli state or army. Glennzilla provides interesting insights and a broader perspective. Meanwhile, “American and European activists to try again with Palestinian visit. . . . two days after Israel and Jordan barred them from entering the West Bank to deliver aid to students.”

International Finance

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi cancelled his scheduled appearance at Jackson Hole with such biggies as Ben Bernanke, leading to much speculation about why (17:10 BST entry). European Council president Herman Van Rompuy has actually said, “The current situation has forced us to recognize some of the flaws in the original architecture of the euro area and the extent to which these have fueled and sustained the crisis.” Nonetheless, “the euro is irreversible.” (16:18 BST entry)

An Australian couple used a company called Streetwise to obtain a $500,000 loan against their home so they could buy investment property. It was a scam, and now they’re left with nothing but huge loan payments. Many such cases are occurring Down Under. “However, unlike many cases in the US, local courts have been finding in favour of borrowers . . ..”

Macquarie Research has estimated that the LIBOR scandal could cost the banks up to $176 billion. Other estimates are not nearly so high, but still in the billions.

Money Matters USA

Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans said the Federal Reserve “needs to take action now to bring down the jobless rate . . ..” He noted the unemployment rate (8.3%) “was unlikely to fall below 7% before 2015 at the earliest.”

❖ Deeper down in those statistics we looked at yesterday (58% of Americans think the rich don’t pay enough taxes) are these findings: 77% of Americans thought the rich should pay more back in 1992 when they were paying more; and 8% thought the poor paid too little–while now 20% think so. Are Democrats not communicating–perhaps have even abandoned–their traditional focus on working families and those less fortunate?

Politics USA

❖ “I’m saying that it’s striking how much we’re talking about race in this campaign, without, you know, talking about race.” James Bennet reviews recent campaign calculations and KKKKarl Rove statements and strategy to illustrate his point.

❖ All the eats, drinks, perks and access you can enjoy as a member of the elite Romney donors at the convention in Tampa.

Primary elections in AZ’s Maricopa County (Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s turf) will be monitored by the US Department of Justice.

AZ Republican Gov Jan Brewer, whose party has been very successful alienating Latinos, is now blaming President Obama for that. “‘He panders to them,” Brewer said. Ah, yes.

NJ GOP Gov Chris Christie revved up the CA Republican delegation thusly: “‘I cannot believe you people elected Jerry Brown over Meg Whitman. Jerry Brown? I mean, he won the New Jersey presidential primary over Jimmy Carter when I was 14 years old.”

Five more corporations have withdrawn from ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council): General Electric, Western Union, Spring Nextel, Symantec and Reckitt Benckiser. That makes 38 companies that have quit ALEC so far.

MT Republican Representative Denny Rehberg, who is running for the Senate against incumbent Democratic Senator Jon Tester, thinks lobbying is “an honorable profession”, wishes he had become a lobbyist, and thinks government is “the enemy”.

❖ The CA legislature just passed a bill, now on its way to the governor, ‘that would exempt drug users from prosecution if they seek medical help.”

The War on Women

NJ GOP Gov Chris Christie, reaching into the depths of his vault of wisdom, said “his party shouldn’t have to shift its message to win over women voters.”

❖ “Girl Stuff is Complicated,” too complicated, perhaps, for the average Republican to understand.

❖ “How would a woman ‘prove’ rape to qualify for Romney’s abortion exception?” It can’t be conviction of rape in court, since such court action typically takes more than 9 months. Would a woman’s word be accepted, or “some kind of new quasi-judicial process” be set up to determine if a rape had occurred? Interesting issues.

WI Republican Lt Gov Rebecca Kleefisch was using words such as “‘abhorrent, insulting’ and’disgusting’” to characterize Todd Akin’s attempts to categorize rape. When told that Paul Ryan (R-WI) co-sponored a bill with Akin that categorized rape, Kleefisch instantly changed her mind. Video.

Working for A Living

❖ Yay! “The Michigan Court of Appeals today affirmed the right of working families to vote on a proposal to preserve collective bargaining.” Republican Gov Rick Snyder even filed a brief trying to keep the collective bargaining initiative off the ballot.

❖ “Factory workers prepare to confront Romney in Tampa over Bain layoffs: Illinois car-part plant employees head to Tampa to protest outsourcing of jobs to China by parent company Bain Capital.”

WV Century Mine workers were told by the mine owner that it was mandatory they attend a Romney rally for which they would not be paid The mine was closed for the day and they were even bussed to Beallsville, OH for Romney’s event. Perhaps that’s why they looked rather downcast in the picture taken of the rally.

CA Democratic Gov Jerry Brown is proposing certain public pension changes, as of Jan 1, 2013, for new employees: employee pension plan contributions will be 50%, caps will be imposed on salary amounts used to establish benefits, most employees will have to be 67 years old in order to retire with maximum benefits, etc.

Heads Up!

❖ “About two dozen protestors voiced their complaints over Nationstar Mortgage Holdings’ foreclosure practices in San Francisco’s financial district Monday. SF Board of Supervisors members David Campus and John Avalos attended the protests and expressed their dissatisfaction with federal reluctance to “address the foreclosure crisis.”

❖ The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief and some of his staff were in Tampa to observe how the Tampa police were handling the protestors.

Mixed Bag

❖ RIP Malcolm Browne, Pulitzer prize winner for his searing photos and reports from Vietnam.

Break Time

❖ That amazing multi-personality man.