International Developments

In South Africa, 20,000 truck drivers are on strike, 12,000 defiant mineworkers have been fired for wildcat strikes, and now the 190,000 members of the South Africa Municipal Workers Union may be on strike within days.

❖ “84% of all voters have ‘little’ or ‘no’ confidence” in Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. 90% of voters distrust the opposition Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party. Instead of looking to politicians, 77% of the Spanish people support “taking it to the streets”.

Police treatment of anti-Austerity, anti-fascist protesters in Greece is reportedly becoming particularly nasty.

❖ “Australian prime minister Julia Gillard ‘played her best hand with a brilliant attack on the Conservative opposition leader, Tony Abbott, accusing him of being sexist and a misogynist’”. Video.

❖ “Libya militias lay siege to pro-Gadhafi city in another sign of chaos.” Food, water and medical supplies are being blocked from the city of Bani Walid and civilians are not being allowed to exit to safety.

❖ “Iraq is quietly shipping vital supplies of fuel oil to Syria”, which is of concern to Washington and also shows the “difficulties” Syria is having with its civil war and economy.

South Korea announced its missile deal with the US, followed quickly by North Korea announcing its missiles “can hit the US mainland.”

❖ Darn! “Silvio Berlusconi says he will not run for prime minister [of Italy] at next election.”

International Finance

LIBOR, meet TOTAL: “the same kinds of market ‘pricing’ shennanigans [sic] that have been now exposed to have taken place . . ., may have been pervasive in the crude [oil] market as well.”

Money Matters USA

❖ Machines in the stock market: “A single computer program placed and canceled orders that made up four percent of the stock market’s entire volume of trading last week”. Nobody knows for sure, but some suspect it was “testing the system”, “gumming up the market to allow other computer traders to gain advantage.” Oh, yes: “regulators have been slow to act.”

Politics USA

Mitt Romney and Bain & Co’s deep involvement in cashing in big time on tobacco–both domestically and, particularly, in Russia–discussed in considerable detail with links to original documents.

❖ “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s independent expenditure arm is shifting TV buys in a series of races, as the House battleground map continues to evolve.”

❖ “Despite Court Order, At Least Five Pennsylvania Counties Still Telling Voters They Need ID To Vote”.

Big Bird is not comfortable being used in the political arena.

❖ President Obama’s appointments to judgeships have not been “younger liberals who would have a lasting influence on the direction of American law.” Right now “there are 14 vacancies on the U.S Court of Appeals and 62 vacancies on various district courts.” His own inaction could lead to a repeal of Obamacare.

❖ Obama is from Chicago and Republicans like to call him a “Chicago politician”. But, argues Rick Perlstein, “the president’s biggest problem, come the election on November 6, isn’t that he’s too Chicago. It’s that he’s not Chicago enough.”

Plutocrat Attacks

❖ Charter schools only accept the students they want from the pool of applicants, unlike public schools. Charter schools also pay teachers less, on average, than public schools. The result? In Chicago, not one charter elementary school was in the top 40 on ISAT scores.

❖ “A leukemia patient making an ‘end-of-life’ trip to Hawaii says she was embarrassed by security agents at the Seattle airport who refused her request for a private pat-down and made her lift her shirt and pull back her bandages.” They also contaminated one of her saline bags. TSA is investigating.

AR Republican Charlie Fuqua, former AR Dept of Human Services attorney and currently running for the state legislature, supports “killing wayward [disrespectful of their parents] children”, “expelling all Muslims from America”, executing “prisoners who cannot be rehabilitated within two years . . . to save money”.

Amtrak’s Philadelphia-to-Harrisburg route faces “serious cutbacks next year because of reduced federal subsidies.” Amtrak funds $8 million for the route now, but that is set to end October 1, 2013, by law. PA is already negotiating with Amtrak over this.

The War on Women

❖ “A 14-year-old Pakistan activist who won international acclaim for speaking out for girls denied education under the Taliban was shot and seriously wounded Tuesday on her way home from school”. She is Malala Yousafzai, 9th grader, riding on the school bus when she was shot, one bullet lodged near her spine. A 7th grade girl on the bus was shot in the leg.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ It’s come to this? Prescribing Adderall for children, not because they have ADHD, but to stimulate them “to boost their academic performance” is being reported. Why? The approaches schools take don’t fit these children and “their families can rarely afford behavior-based therapies like tutoring and family counseling”, but their grades improve after administering the medication.

Heads Up!

❖ Responding to a Public Records Act request by the Sacramento Bee for documents pertaining to the pepper-spraying of students protesting non-violently at UC Davis last year, the University of California has released “thousands of pages of internal documents and emails related to the aftermath of the incident.”

Working for A Living

❖ Here comes the dodge. Darden Restaurants owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Darden Restaurants “is putting more workers on part-time status in a test aimed at limiting the impact of looming health coverage requirements.” By 2014, employers must provide health care to all full-time employees.

❖ “General Motors plans to hire up to 10,000 computer professionals in the next three-to-five years as it tries to lead the auto industry with cutting-edge technology.” The rationale seems to be to develop your own software and invent “the most advanced gizmos for yourself” rather than buy from others.

3 protesters were arrested at Sansata Technologies in Freeport, IL Monday for blocking trucks that were hauling away some of the factory’s machines since the plant has been scheduled to close in December. Sensata makes “sensors and controls for auto manufacturers” and is owned by Bain Capital. 170 workers’ jobs are to be moved to China by the end of December.

Latin America

❖ The US Supreme Court refused “to block an $18.2 billion Ecuadorian judgment against [Chevon] in a case over pollution in the Amazon jungle.” Between 1964-1991, Chevron was operating in the Lago Agrio region causing “water pollution, soil contamination, deforestation and cultural upheaval”.

❖ “Colombia militia boss ‘Martin Llanos’ confesses murders: A paramilitary leader in Colombia has confessed to participating in a massacre committed by the far right-wing United Self Defence Forces.”

Zeta drug cartel leader Heriberto Lazcano was killed by Mexican Marines and his body stored in a funeral parlor. A gang has now stolen his corpse.

Mixed Bag

Lady Gaga visited Julian Assange at his digs in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London recently.

❖ “Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandsky has been sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing young boys for more than a decade.”

❖ Isn’t there enough of this stuff around as is? “US scientists aim to make human sperm from stem cells”.

Break Time

Yosemite Night Skies