Emily Dickinson (left) and Kate Scott Turner in 1859, (newly found photo: Amhurst College Archives)

Hello. Today is the anniversary of the opening of the First Continental Congress in Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia, PA, in 1774. And here we are.

International Developments

❖ Parti Quebecois did win in Quebec, but during Pauline Marois’s victory speech, a gunman suddenly opened fire, shooting one person dead, wounding another.

❖ “A suicide bomber has attacked a funeral ceremony in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, killing at least 25 civilians including the son of a district governor . . ..”

International Finance

❖ “Greece’s eurozone creditors [the European commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund] are demanding that the government in Athens introduce a six-day working week as part of the stiff terms for the country’s second bailout.” They also want a uniform minimum wage, “non-wage labour costs to be lowered, employers’ welfare contributions to be cut, and deregulation of the labour market.”

❖ As Spain’s unemployment rate grows–now at 25%–so do the costs of unemployment benefits, adding “several billion euros to the budget deficit.”

The CEO of Nestle, “the world’s largest food company”, has spoken: “US and EU must change biofuel targets to avert food crisis . . . biofuels [are] an aberration and [have a] potential impact of water wastage.”

Money Matters USA

❖ Who could have imagined? “Private Health Insurers Seek To Maintain Power By Merging Before Obamacare Takes Effect”.

❖ “Obama and Romney Overstate China Threat”. According to Evan Soltas, owning dollars and US debt allows the Chinese government to suppress the value of the yuan, but that is changing as China begins “slow and managed appreciation of the yuan” which economists view as 40% undervalued anyway. Blaming China for the US’ fiscal problems is “increasingly looking outdated.”

Politics USA

❖ Romney’s campaign will have a Black Leadership Council to ensure Romney can better communicate with the black community. What are the chances given that Representatives Tim Scott and Allen West will be co-chairs?

❖ Here’s the Kennedy tribute video, including the debate against Mitt Romney.

❖ What is Obama’s second term agenda? People want more than an iteration of past efforts. They want a bold plan–how he will confront “the long-term problems facing the country”. Will he deliver?

Touchy subject, drones. A FOX19 reporter on Ohio teevee asked the President about “targeting killings without trials–including the death of two American citizens.” Obama responded, “I don’t talk about our national security decisions in that way.”

❖ “‘Rahm [Emanuel] will turbo charge the fundraising for Priorities USA’.” They hope, since Priorities USA “still lags far behind Republican super PACs”.

❖ The Department of Justice “has cleared New Hampshire’s voter ID law . . . [since] voters who lack an acceptable form of photo identification will be allowed to cast a ballot if they sign an affidavit confirming their identity.”

❖ “The Obama campaign filed a motion on Wednesday asking a federal court to force the state of Ohio to obey [the court's] decision to restore early voting in the three days before the November election.” OH Secretary of State Jon Husted said yesterday he wouldn’t comply “until an appeals court ruled” on the decision.

❖ According to the Pentagon’s Inspector General, “the federal government’s efforts to assist military voters under the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act aren’t working thanks to underfunding and ineffective outreach to younger military personnel.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has assured MI Gov Rick Snyder that “progress is being made on the long-stalled regional transit authority.” $25 million was awarded for Detroit light rail in Feb 2010, but LaHood redirected the money toward a bus rapid transit system, complicating planning. LaHood is now saying more federal funds could be forthcoming.

❖ Almost 900 school districts will be competing for the new Race to the Top, according to the US Dept of Education. Awards are $30 – $40 million for 200 large districts and $10 – $20 million for 433 smallest ones, with the others in between. Those awards are sorely needed. “26 states will spend less per pupil” in FY 2013 than in FY 2012, as the accompanying chart shows.

American Airlines and United Continental are being sued by World Trade Center Properties “alleging negligence against the carriers for allowing terrorists to board and hijack the planes that were flown into the buildings.”

The War on Women

❖ This tops ‘em all: “The State of Texas plans to move forward with a wholly remade women’s health program on November 1 that excludes Planned Parenthood’s clinics from receiving state funds, prohibits doctors from discussing abortion with patients and refuses health services entirely if the patient happens to be pregnant.”

Heads Up!

❖ The FBI has said there is “no evidence” that hackers accessed 12 million Apple UDID codes from an agent’s laptop, as AntiSec claims.

Administrative subpoenas require almost all businesses “to hand over sensitive data on individuals or corporations, as long as a government agent [not a judge] declares the information is relevant to an investigation. Two “scathing reports from the Justice Department’s Inspector General uncovered routine and pervasive illegal use of administrative subpoenas . . ..”

Special Order 1 allows Los Angeles Police Department officers “to continue to gather, record and share intelligence and information based solely on observed behavior.” The LAPD “also proposed [giving] police officers unprecedented access into the private lives of citizens who not only reside in Los Angeles, but outside the LAPD’s jurisdiction as well.”

Planet Earth News

Organic food: “. . . we should remember that organic began chiefly as an argument about the environment. . . to buy organic is to respect the land your food came from.” There are also public health concerns with all the antibiotics poured into animal feed, and the use of pesticides, other “chemicals, preservatives and hormones.” And there’s the all-important health impact on farmworkers.

❖ Surprise, surprise. Monsanto’s GMO corn appears to be the loser and the adaptable western corn rootworm the winner.

TransCanada is now proposing to re-route its pipeline in NE to avoid impact on the Sandhills and 2 small city well fields.

❖ Over the past 2 years, Liberia has sold one-fourth of its land to logging companies, meaning “that 40% of its forests are under private ownership and risk being flattened by logging companies . . ..”

Latin America

❖ “Peru’s environment minister hails ‘landmark’ mining reforms: New body to carry out impact assessments amid concerns country is sacrificing environment for short-term burst of growth.” There have been major protests, some turning deadly, against the “lucrative and polluting rush for minerals” over the past few years.

❖ Wow! “A judge in Argentina has ordered the arrest of Credit Suisse executive and former U.S. Treasury Undersecretary David Mulford because he failed to testify over a 2001 Argentine debt swap . . ..” Interpol will be asked to issue an international arrest warrent for Mulford.

President Juan Manuel Santos said Colombia kept the US “informed about exploratory dialogues with the FARC for several months”–”a strategy and plan that we designed with the United States several years ago.” Talks between the Colombian government and FARC will start in Oslo, Norway in October, then move on to Havana.

Mixed Bag

❖ New photograph of Emily Dickinson.

Break Time

❖ “Putin to dress up as a bird and lead migration” of white Siberian cranes. He’ll even be sporting a fake beak! But can he top this one?