Howdy!

International Developments

❖ An unidentified prisoner at Guantanamo has died; “investigation pending into cause”.

16 people in Kunduz, Afghanistan were killed by a suicide bomber. Eleven were policemen.

Yemen reports security forces have killed Said al-Shihri, one of those second-in-command al-Qaeda leaders. He was described as a Saudi national.

❖ An estimated 15,000 mine-workers have struck a Gold Fields mine in South Africa, “engaging in an unlawful and unprotected strike since the start of the night shift”, according to management.

International Economics

❖ Decreased investment and consumer purchases have deepened the recession in Italy, with the economy down 2.6% from a year ago.

❖ On Wednesday, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court will decide “whether the eurozone’s new permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism . . . breaches the German constitution. “Anxiety about the direction that Europe is travelling has become widespread inside the country.”

Money Matters USA

BP is keeping its Macondo well, but is selling $5.55 billion worth of assets it holds in the Gulf of Mexico.

Christina Romer: Go slow phasing in “spending cuts and tax increases . . . as the economy recovers”; introduce a “well-designed tax reform that raises at least some additional revenue”; be specific about what programs are to be cut and pay attention when the “defense secretary says. . . $487 billion. . .can be safely cut from the Pentagon’s budget. . ..”

We used to think that the law would come into play when “banksters have committed illegal acts”. Now, it seems, proprietary software code is taking over. Wells Fargo had two separate contractors on two separate occasions wrongly clear the same home. Why? Wells Fargo had sent an address to the two contractors who used satellite photos to identify the house–only it was the wrong address produced by a database Wells Fargo used. “Nobody has any concern about prosecutions.”

Politics USA

❖ A petition drive is underway in Chicago to “support legislation that would require gun owners statewide to register their weapons.” The petition is being circulated by the Chicago Clergy Coalition and will be presented to the state legislature this November.

❖ A match made in . . . well, somewhere: “Chris Christie To Campaign For Steve King”.

❖ “Elizabeth Warren on How Joe BIden and Hillary Clinton Sold Us Out”. Warren recalls “many senior Democrats ultimately joined the Republicans in betraying the middle class”, including Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden who voted for a bankruptcy bill that was backed by the financial industry.

❖ Intrigue: “A political consultant and friend of U.S. Rep. David Rivera was scheduled to talk to the FBI about a suspicious campaign tied to the two of them. She didn’t show up.” The FBI had “raided her Miami apartment and taken her computer, cellphone and other items” the day before she was to meet with them. More.

❖ A dark money group is taking on OH Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown whose challenger is Republican Josh Mandel. Government Integrity Fund is run by lobbyist Tom Norris, who has on staff Joel Riter, “a top Mandel aide”. The Government Integrity Fund is registered as a “non-profit ‘social welfare’ group, [and thus doesn't] have to release donor information or register with the Federal Election Commission.”

Rand Paul was astounded to learn from Paul Krugman that there are fewer government employees since Obama came to office. Video.

Mitt Romney’s doubling-down: “The president wants to say, well, he stopped the recession from going further. Well, frankly, the recession came to an end and we are waiting for the president to get us to where he said he’d get us, which is 5.4 percent unemployment And he hasn’t been able to do it because of the policies he’s put in place.” Video.

❖ “15 Percent of Ohio Republicans Think Mitt Romney Killed Osama bin Laden”.

❖ “Florida Voter Purge Caught Just One Non-Citizen Voter”.

Common Cause and Demos have issued a report, “Bullies at the Ballot Box”, about intimidation tactics at polling places. True the Vote, from the tea party crowd, wants to train a million people to “make voters feel ‘like driving and seeing the police following you.’”

“Birtherpalooza” not going to happen “due to inadequate ticket sales” despite such attractions as Pat Boone, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Army Lt. Col Terrence Lakin (court martialed for refusal to go to Afghanistan).

PA’s Dept of the Auditor General says the state “has overpaid charter schools because its formula is pegged to educational costs in the sending school district rather than on the actual educational cost to the charter or cyber charter school.” Savings of $365 million/year could be realized by using other states’ funding formulas and “closing an administrative loophole that permits double-dipping in pension payments . . ..”

Although there were “dire warnings from supporters of the ban on allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly” in the military–guess what? There was no negative impact, according to a recent study.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ “How the Clean Air Act Has Saved $22 Trillion in Health-Care Costs”. Professor Alan H. Lockwood surveys the past and points to the future: by 2020, 230,000 deaths/year among 30+ adults will have been avoided and 230 deaths among infants, too. Savings: $1.7 trillion for adults and $2.5 billion for infants. “Any way one may choose to interpret these data, benefits consistently outweigh costs by very large margins.”

❖ “The share of young adults without health insurance fell by one-sixth in 2011 from the previous year the largest annual decline for any age groups since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began collecting the data in 1997″ according to a new report. Why? Most likely the ability of children to be on their parents’ insurance policy until their 26th birthday, as provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Working for A Living

❖ The “labor force participation rate among young people (16-24) . . . has plummeted much faster than that of other age groups, even as the participation rate among the oldest (65+)Americans has risen to record levels.”

Hewlett Packard announced plans to layoff 29,000 (2,000 more than earlier mentioned) over the next 2 years. “Chief Executive Met Whitman, who took the top job last September, is trying to move the company past the internal upheaval that marked 2011, including the departure of two previous chief executives.”

Heads Up!

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck “has ordered his 21 stations to hold community meetings to discuss recent videotaped violent arrests that have raised questions about use of force by officers.”

❖ The plot thickens concerning those 11 million Apple UDIDs that were supposedly gotten from an FBI agent’s lap-top computer by Anonymous. Digital publishing company BlueToad of Orlando, FL says the numbers were gotten from it through a hack over a week ago. The FBI has denied having the numbers.

Latin America

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was defeated in his bid for President of Mexico in an election he calls fraudulent, has quit the Democratic Revolution Party, urging his followers to join a new peaceful civil resistance movement, Morena.

Mixed Bag

J.C. Penney had free haircuts for kids last month and it was such a success, that they’ll be making it permanent on Sundays beginning November 4th.

❖ A group of Hiroshima atomic bomb survivors went to Jerusalem’s holy sites today carrying “Nuclear Abolition” signs (in Japanese).

Break Time

The convention