Hello. Here’s some news to help you wind down your week.
❖ Around “500 people were slaughtered in Daraya [Syria] over two and a half days at the end of last month. Rebels and the government accuse each other. Left behind is a town destroyed beyond recognition.”
❖ Nepal’s ruling Maoist party has been removed from the US’s blacklist of terrorist organizations, so Nepal is now open for US business.
❖ Next up on the black list: Haqqani, terrorist organization based in Pakistan. “Official argue blacklisting would help curtail fundraising activities and pressure Pakistan to act against militants.”
❖ Since early 2009, “Chinese banks have issued roughly . . . $5.4 trillion in new loans . . ., funded mainly by bank credit . . ..” Results: an unsustainable housing bubble, massive local government debt (estimated at $1.7 trillion) and growth of “a complex, unregulated banking system”. Are massive defaults in the future? “Are Chinese banks hiding the mother of all debt bombs?”
❖ What’s going on in up there? “The US at the peak [of the housing bubble] had nearly a 125% debt-to-disposable income ratio while Canada is now inching closer to 145%!” Wild divergence, too, between the two countries in terms of construction jobs as % of total employment.
Money Matters USA
❖ “Tax planning? Or tax cheating? Laws that encourage corporate tax havens are bad for America.” Close look at various devices multi-national corporations use to avoid paying taxes–tax havens, profit shifting, stateless income. Despite Romney’s high praise of those who use such devices, the “missing tax revenue must be made up by domestic firms and individual Americans.”
❖ Joseph Stiglitz amplifies on “negative externalities,” or costs that “economic producers impose on society for which they don’t pay.” For example, the energy industry’s huge profits which “rely heavily on the failure of regulation to incorporate fully the social and economic costs associated with environmental degradation . . ..” Much, much more.
❖ On Obama’s support for Simpson-Bowles and the public’s support for Senator Bernie Sanders’ position on Social Security: “In this upside-down world of phony publicity rackets and astroturfed activism, the socialist speaks for Republicans while the Democrats embrace their ideological foes.” And guess who loses.
❖ The score is now in, and the Democrats won on truth-telling during the two parties’ conventions.
❖ He blinked. OH Secretary of State Jon Husted, who was determined that early voting hours would not be permitted in Democratic counties but would be permitted in Republican ones, has abandoned his plans to refuse to comply with federal court orders.
❖ The Senator from ALEC: Tommy Thompson. currently running for the Senate. Memorable quote: “‘I always loved going to [ALEC] meetings because I always found new ideas. Then I’d take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare that it’s mine.’”
❖ Gee that’s too bad. Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin’s teevee ads won’t be seen any more because nobody’s paid to have them aired.
❖ IA GOP Congressman Steve King was on the radio debating his rival Christie Vilsack when he was asked about comparing immigrants to dogs, which he did last May. He responded, in part, “But that’s what that was, was a compliment.” BTW, Mitt Romney “enthusiastically endorsed conservative lightning rod Rep. Steve King . . ..”
Working for A Living
❖ What’s turbo-charged Rahmbo going to do? There’s a 30,000-teacher strike in Chicago looming on Monday since contract talks got nowhere. BTW, the DNC is accused of dissing teachers at its convention in Charlotte which “began with the screening of an anti-teachers union movie and never got much friendlier.”
❖ “Real Unemployment Rate Hits 11.7% As Spread Between Reported and Propaganda Data Hits Record”
❖ How cool! BMW managers, concerned about their aging workers, “set up an experimental assembly line . . . hoists to spare aging backs, adjustable-height work benches, and wooden floors . . ..” Results: “Not only could they keep up, the older workers did a better job than young staffers on another line at the same factory.” The changes are now being implemented at other BMW sites.
Planet Earth News
❖ More on the acceleration of ice melt in the Arctic, including two videos.
❖ From a study published in Nature: Underwater mountains “are looking more like plowed fields [thanks to trawling], which changes the habitats of deep-sea creatures. The process rivals landslides and storms for re-shaping the slopes.”
❖ FARC wanted a ceasefire declared upon commencement of peace talks with the Colombian government in October, but President Juan Manuel Santos adamantly rejected that saying “his government would not ‘lower its guard in terms of security’ . . . [nor] repeat the mistakes of the past” when FARC used peace talks in 2002 to regroup.
❖ Scientists have identified the Chilean torture victim whose body washed up on the coast of Uruguay in 1976, using DNA collected at the time. He was Luis Gullermo Vega Ceballos, an activist with the Chilean Revolutionary Workers Party during the “Dirty War”. His wife, whose body has never been found, is believed to have been killed after giving birth to their child who was presumably raised by military or police families.
❖ Tom Daubert, a major force in getting Montana’s medical marijuana law passed by voters, was indicted after federal agents raided a medical marijuana business, of which Daubert had earlier been a part. Daubert pled guilty to “conspiracy to maintain drug-involved premises”, a potential 20-year prison stint. The assistant US attorney wanted 6-1/2 to 8 years. The judge imposed five years’ probation.
❖ Unbelievable: Ramil Safarov, from Azerbaijan, murdered an Armenian in their NATO-sponsored dormitory in Hungary in 2004 by chopping off his head. Safarov was tried in Hungary and given a life sentence. After 8 years in prison, he was sent to Azerbaijan to finish his sentence. Instead, he was given a hero’s welcome, “a pardon, a new apartment, eight years of back-pay and a promotion.” Hungary is embarrassed, enraged Armenians burned flags at the Hungarian embassy, and the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia seems to have gone south.