Here’s some news to get you ready for the upcoming week.
❖ Fallujah, Iraq was subjected to intense military barrages by US and allied forces in 2004, including use of white phosphorus. Results: “a ‘staggering rise’ in birth defects among children conceived in the aftermath . . . [h]igh rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiraling numbers of birth defects”. The World Health Organization’s complete report will be released in November.
❖ “The Punch Line: All The Charts That’s Fit To Print“. Don’t miss: “17 pages of charts and news blurbs indicating the true state of the economy in an easily digestible format.”
❖ Sign of the times? German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Greece for six hours, during which 7,000 police were on duty on her behalf. Afterward, she returned to Germany and tried to give a speech in Stuttgart (in the rain), which resulted in 14 minutes of booing by the crowd.
❖ “Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has defended the central bank’s measures to bolster the US economy” amid criticisms from emerging nations that his “monetary easing” has hurt them. (Great picture of BB accompanies the article.)
Money Matters USA
❖ Wild tale out of Aspen. William Koch of the infamous Koch Brothers has been accused in federal court of having a former Koch executive taken to a remote ranch, where he supposedly was “interrogated, searched and held against his will for over twenty-four hours before finally being freed.”
❖ A Morgan Stanley “top bond writer” was accused of refusing to pay his cab fare–and then stabbing the cab driver in the hand with a small knife. The bond writer and cabbie have differing accounts of the events. All charges filed earlier have been dropped.
❖ 86% of US tax payers pay into the federal system, one way or the other. The “total effective federal [tax rate is] 4% for the poorest and 25.1% for the richest.” Things are much different at the state level, however, where, on average, “the poorest 20% of workers pay almost twice as high a percentage of their income as the richest 1%.” Table with state-by-state data.
❖ At diners, cafes, restaurants and other eateries, folks are “noticing smaller servings, steeper bills and thinner crowds” as proprietors struggle with escalating food prices in the wake of the mid-West drought. “These increases will continue, but at a faster pace.”
❖ After only 1-1/2 years, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund’s plan has already resulted in a network of locally grown and produced fresh foods delivered to markets such as the University of Vermont and other college cafeterias, and a special mobile unit that goes to “food desert” areas in rural northern Vermont. Almost 500 jobs have been created thus far, with the potential of 1500.
❖ Billy Graham had a meeting with Mitt Romney, decided he supports the Mittster, and–voila!–his web-site removed all references to Mormonism as “A Cult”.
❖ A group of Catholic theologians have issued a public statement, “On all of our shoulders: A Catholic Call to Protect the Endangered Common Good”, pointing out that the “‘Tea Party,’ libertarians, Ayn Rand followers and other proponents of small government” have effectively been “legitimating forms of social indifference”.
❖ She’s the head of the Central Mississippi Tea Party and she thinks women probably shouldn’t have been given the vote since ‘There is nothing worse than a bunch of mean, hateful women. They are diabolical in how [they] can skewer a person.”
❖ Five of FL’s six living ex-governors (JEB didn’t appear) met at the University of Florida “and offered up a stern bipartisan warning about the future direction of the state.”
❖ Apps for phones that are “meant to keep citizens safe from their local and federal governments.”
❖ The banner outside reads “Throw the money changers out of the temple” while inside London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral four Occupy London members chained themselves to the pulpit.
Working for A Living
❖ Some employees of Samsonite in France “who were laid off and robbed of their severance pay by Bain Capital” are set to join the workers’ encampment at Sensata Technologies, another Bain Capital creation, in Freeport, IL which is moving its operations to China–and making the workers train their Chinese replacements.
❖ And now there are two. First, Westgate Resorts CEO David Siegel emailed all employees, “arguing that the president’s reelection would ‘threaten’ their jobs.” Now, ASG Software Solutions CEO Arthur Allen has emailed his employees that if the “right choice” isn’t made on November 6th, he doesn’t “want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come.”
Planet Earth News
❖ More news out of PA: Republican Gov Tom Corbett signed a bill “that opens up 14 of the state’s public universities to fracking, oil drilling and coal mining on campus.” The sweetener? 50% of “all fees and royalties” will go to each university where this fracking/drilling/mining will occur, 35% will be distributed across all universities and 15% will subsidize tuition.
❖ Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos has apologized “to indigenous communities in the Amazon for deaths and destruction caused by the rubber boom around 100 years go. The Colombian government of the time enabled a Peruvian, Julio Cesar Arana, to extract rubber by “forced labour, slavery, torture and mutilation” and the decimation of nine indigenous peoples.
❖ RIP Arlen Specter
❖ The Dept of Justice has “announced a new policy broadening and clarifying the right of Native Americans to possess eagle feathers and other parts of the birds that they consider sacred but are protected by U.S. law.” The National Congress of American Indians has reacted positively to the new, uniform policy. We’ll see.