The march to South Waziristan. (photo: @Hassaan06)

Hello!

International Developments

2 US soldiers were killed in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday.

❖ “One person has been killed in an Israeli air strike over the southern part of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources say.” 5 people were hurt, two of them children.

❖ “Turkey’s military fired an artillery round into Syria on Sunday in immediate retaliation after a shell fired from Syria landed in the Turkish border town of Akcakale.”

❖ “Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Saturday that exchange artillery fire between Syria and Turkey could escalate and impact neighboring countries.”

❖ The march to South Waziristan as led by Imran Khan and joined by Code Pink to protest US drone strikes is 9-miles long. The Pakistan government and the Taliban have warned of suicide bombers. Khan said if they were not allowed into South Waziristan, they would hold a rally wherever they were stopped, which has occurred. Update is right here.

❖ While other newspapers in Israel are struggling to survive, Hayom is doing just great. The paper is owned by Sheldon Adelson, the US casino king and major Romney donor, who is a huge supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hayom is free. Tee vee channels in Israel are also feeling the impact of big bucks.

International Finance

❖ “Europe, and its apparent Union, is rapidly fragmenting as tensions mount on large and small scales across all its regions and nations.” Already, independence is being spoken of in Venice, Sicily, Sardinia and Catalonia, and even Scotland and Flanders. Wealthier areas resent having to support the poorer ones and historical grievances are even being felt.

❖ “Over 6,000 Cops Will Protect Merkel On Her 6 Hour Visit to Athens”.

❖ “Tens of thousands of people marched in 56 Spanish cities Sunday to protest punishing austerity cuts . . ..” 20,000 in Madrid “behind a banner that said, “They want to ruin the country. We have to stop them.”

Thousands of Foxconn workers in China are striking “over working conditions related to production of the iPhone5.

Money Matters USA

❖ “Investors Need To Realize The Machines Have Taken Over.” So-called high frequency trading (HFT) is conducted by machines and “HFT algorithms are responsible for 70% (!) of all complete transactions on [the] exchanges, and for 99.9% (!!!) of all exchange quotes.” They operate in the realm of milliseconds. (Sergey gave us our first glimpse of this phenomenon in 2009.)

❖ Surprise, surprise! The wealthiest members of Congress have prospered during the recession. The average US “median household net worth [dropped] 39 percent” between 2007-10, but Congress’ median wealth “rose 5 percent [with the] wealthiest one-third [gaining] 14 percent.

❖ In federal fiscal year 2011-12 the “federal deficit dipped to $1.1 trillion”, $200 billion less than in ffy 2010-11. That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Politics USA

❖ Now there’s a “Fix the Debt” campaign for business leaders upset by the impending Fiscal Cliff. It’s being run by a “nonpartisan Committee for Responsible Federal Budget” (website here; Muckety map here), whose president is Maya MacGuineas, and it’s co-chaired by Republican Sen Judd Gregg and PA Democrat Gov Ed Rendell. And guess who is involved? Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles. The goal: A Grand Compromise. The tactic: Raise lots of money and lobby Congress.

Why Obama Now

❖ Why is Mitt Romney picking on Big Bird?

❖ NY Republican Representative Richard Hanna is running for re-election and has been challenged by Democrat Dan Lamb. Local tee vee stations had a Q&A with Lamb (Hanna had refused participation). Hannah got upset and threatened to pull his campaign dollars from one of the tee vee stations, as an email shows.

❖ AR Republican state Sen Jon Hubbard claims that slavery “was a ‘blessing in disguise’” since “The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.”

Working for A Living

❖ The RI legislature suspended annual increases for state pensioners, resulting in a lawsuit. Reneging on promised public pension benefits is growing around the country as municipalities and states try to trim public pension costs without having to raise taxes and hack away at other programs.

Planet Earth News

❖ “We’re changing the chemistry of the oceans“, which are now 30% more acidic than just a couple of centuries ago–during which time “the seas have absorbed 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide”. Prognosis, according to one French biological oceanographer: “The oceans will become hot, sour and breathless” within 100 years. Yves Smith discusses coverage of this global, irreversible disaster that is upon us.

❖ Grrrr! Darryl Hannah joined 78-year old great-grandmother, Eleanor Fairchild outside Winnsboro, TX, to protest construction of the Keystone XL pipeline through Fairchild’s 300-acre ranch. The police came and arrested both of them for trespassing–even though Fairchild was standing on her own property.

Latin America

❖ The World Bank has ordered Ecuador to pay Occidental Petroleum $1.77 billion in damages for having seized Occidental assets in 2006 after it terminated a contract with the company, “arguing that the company had sold a stake in its operations without government consent.” Ecuador will appeal the World Bank’s decision and said it’s willing to pay Occidental a maximum of $417 million.

❖ On Thursday, protestors near Totonicapan–”about 90 miles west of Guatemala City–were fired upon by soldiers and/or police during a protest about “electrical power prices and education policies”. Six people were killed.

Break Time

J Stewart confronts the Mayor of Bullshit Mountain.