Greetings!

International Developments

❖ “Iran suspends uranium enrichment: Move intended as gesture of goodwill before negotiations with US over nuclear programme begin next week”.

International Finance

❖ Merck KGaA, pharmaceutical company in Germany, “Is no longer delivering cancer drug Erbitux to Greek hospitals” since they aren’t being paid. Merck’s CFO said “It only affects Greece, where we have been faced with many problems. It’s just the one product.” Erbitux is used to treat bowel, head and neck cancers.

❖ Did European Central Bank President Mario Draghi lie when he “reassured the world that no matter how much ‘crap’ collateral is taken on to the ECB’s balance sheet, their risk management process is rigorous and ensures the safety of the entity’s capital thanks to well-devised haircuts and collateral”?

Money Matters USA

New York Gov Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have warned that “Tens of thousands of people whose homes were damaged by storm Sandy could soon need housing as cold weather closes in”. 30,000 – 40,000 is the estimate of the number of people in direst need of housing and warmth.

❖ Those 12 Oregon National Guard soldiers suing KBR for negligence in exposing them to sodium dichromate back in 2003 in Qarmat Ali, Iraq have won their case. They were part of 21 soldiers suing; the trial for the others will begin sometime this winter in Portland. “Each soldier was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and $6.25 million in punitive damages.” KBR will appeal.

❖ What impact has Dodd-Frank had on financial sector profits? Pretty much nada, apparently. Instead, it appears that TARP and HERA (Fannie/Freddie bailout passed at the same time as TARP), plus the housing bubble, are directly correlated with financial sector profits. Graphs included.

Politics USA

New York Times Sunday editorial: “This year, voting is more than just the core responsibility of citizenship; it is an act of defiance against malicious political forces determined to reduce access to democracy.” Much more.

❖ Of $213 million in “dark money“, 81% went to Republicans and 19% to Democrats. Over $1 million in dark money has been spent in: Senate races in VA, OH, NV and WI; House races in NY-28 NY-22, NY-23 and CO-3. KKKKarl’s “Crossroads GPS and the US Chamber of Commerce account for 46 percent of the spending all by themselves.”

❖ The US Department of Justice is sending 780+ observers and monitors to 51 jurisdictions in 23 states to make sure voting rights are protected. A list of the places is in the article.

A 96-year old who takes great pride in voting moved to GA to be near her son. She finally got her voter ID from GA but only after an exhausting ordeal. She concludes: “I will vote in person on Nov. 6 but my spirit is broken. Trust in the government of my adopted state is shattered, a cruel joke.”

❖ Both the League of Women Voters and FL Democrats urged FL Republican Gov Rick Scott to extend voting hours due to the long lines at the polls. He has refused.

❖ The US Department of Justice is monitoring early voting in Miami-Dade, FL

❖ Doral headquarters of Miami-Dade elections locked its doors on voters for one hour today “because it was overwhelmed with people wanting to cast absentee ballots in person.” People began shouting “Let us vote!” as some watched their cars being towed away.

Police blew up a “suspicious lunch cooler” and a “bag of garbage” which appeared outside the Winter Park [FL] Library where early voting was taking place. This took about 4 hours, during which time voters were encouraged to vote at other places in Orange County. Update: A judge has ruled the early voting hours for the Winter Park Library must be extended.

NJ Republican Gov Chris Christie “ordered county clerks to open their offices on Saturday and Sunday to allow early voting”. In addition, paper ballots will be available on Tuesday at polling places without power. NJ residents displaced by the storm will be able to vote by email or fax.

Nine voting places in the Cleveland, OH area are without power. Officials are confident the power will be restored by Tuesday, Election Day. Plan B is to truck generators and flashlights around. This is Cuyahoga County, Democratic stronghold.

❖ “Untested and uncertified” software patches are now installed “on ES&S voting machines in 39 Ohio counties.”

OH Secretary of State Jon Husted’s efforts to restrict early voting were thwarted all the way up to the US Supreme Court. Husted has now filed a “last-minute directive on provisional ballots that not only contradicts Ohio law but is also in violation of a recent decision and the opposite of what Husted’s own lawyers said he would do.” He’s been sued.

❖ From the King County, WA elections website: “It’s been reported that King County GOP is offering to collect and return voters’ ballots. We recommend that voters return ballots to an official King County Elections ballot drop-off location or through the US Postal Services. Voters may use the online ballot tracker to confirm that King County has received their ballot.”

❖ Remember Colin Small who was arrested for throwing voter registration forms in a dumpster in Harrisonburg, VA? The firm employing Small is “led by longtime GOP operative Nathan Sproul”. Authorities now want to know what instructions were given to Small and his 40 co-workers.

VA Democrat Wayne Powell is running against GOP Representative Eric Cantor this year. Vandals spray painted “Baby Killer” and “Nigger Lover” on the building housing Powell’s campaign office.

❖ Update on the arrest count for MO Republican Rep and Senate wannabee William Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin: at least eight arrests for trespassing during anti-abortions protests in the ’80s.

Making Change at Walmart, “a campaign affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union” has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission “alleging that Walmart heir Jim Walton violated campaign finance laws” by exceeding contribution limits during the 2008 elections.

Women & Children

❖ In Moraga, CA “adult victims who were underage at the time”, are involved in a lawsuit against the Moraga school district for teacher molestations. Although a teacher was found guilty, the school district turned around and said the victim was “careless and negligent” when, as a preteen, she was molested, and therefore “was herself responsible for the acts and damages of which she claims”.

Planet Earth News

❖ PA officials released a report on the effects of fracking, but omitted that toxic metals were found in drinking water near a fracking site. Seven people living within a mile of the site and who have toluene, benzene and arsenic in their bodies have sued.

❖ Puerto Rico has begun construction on “what will soon be the Caribbean’s largest solar energy park.” $265 million, 270,000 solar panels generating power to 13,000 homes, saving 236 million barrels of oil/year and eliminating 217 billion pounds of “greenhouse emissions.”

Mixed Bag

A fully-stocked bar was ripped from its foundations and moved by Hurricane Sandy almost 7 miles before it stopped and settled–to the delight of some locals who “hooked up a generator to the bar and started serving drinks until they ran out.” The bar, The Sugar Bowl, used to be at Breezy Point in Queens until it set sail and landed in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn.

Break Time

Slots of the geologic kind.