Nice to see some sunshine out today. Enjoyed catching those beams.

International Developments

UK officials are going to have “talks with armed Syrian rebels in a bid to unite the opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.” Prime Minister David Cameron is in Jordan to discuss the matter with Jordan’s King. Talks with Syrian rebels are supposed to occur in Jordan and Turkey. Cameron has certainly been busy while in the mid-East, announcing “a joint defence partnership” with the United Arab Emirates.”

International Finances

❖ Pretty amazing: “Merkel calls for eurozone countries to surrender key tax-and-spend powers: Prescription aimed at rescuing the single currency is one that other member nations may find hard to swallow”. Specifics: “major centralisation in Brussels of sovereign national [fiscal, budgetary and economic] policies”; a new eurozone budget; European Central Bank (in Germany, no less) as “supervisor of the eurozone’s banking sector”.

❖ Details emerging of those “substantial errors” we learned about yesterday in the European Union’s financial matters. For example: “44% of all transactions were “affected by material error”; Rural Development, Environment, Fisheries and Health lost 7.7% of its funds somewhere or other; the Agricultural Guarantee Fund lost 2.9%; Regional Policy, Energy and Transport can’t find 6.0% of its funds; and Employment and Social Affairs lost 2.2%.

❖ “Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has pleaded with politicians to vote through a fresh round of austerity measures crucial to securing the country’s next round of bailout funds.” Meanwhile, protests continue with police in Athens firing tear gas into the crowds of citizens who are undertaking “the mother of strikes”.

❖ The US International Trade Commission has “voted unanimously that Chinese companies have materially injured U.S. manufacturers” of solar panels, which should result in “steep tariffs on Chinese solar companies.”

Money Matters USA

How to improve the US jobs report: Have a “harmonized” (shop talk: uniform) computer system “across all 50 states [requiring] businesses to file unemployment insurance payments every month instead of every quarter”. That would require an investment, though, and House Republicans might balk. More.

An “awful” bill is in the works and there is no indication there’ll be public hearings on it either. This bill, the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act of 2012, “would undermine the independence of the independent agencies, and with it, their ability to do their jobs.” Consumer and advocacy groups are against it, while banks and big business love it.

Politics USA

❖ We must hold him to this one! Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “We’re not going to mess with Social Security.”

For your NSS file: “Huckabee: GOP Has ‘Done A Pathetic Job Of Reaching Out To People Of Color’.

❖ “Florida’s Amendment 8, which would have lifted restrictions on state funding of religious institutions, was defeated in Tuesday’s election”–55% to 44%.

❖ Another victory in FL: Voters defeated Amendment 6, the ban on state funding for abortion.

❖ Yay Michigan! 84-year old Matty Moroun spent $31 million to get voters to agree to amend the state constitution so his 82-year old Ambassador (toll, of course) Bridge could continue to be the only bridge connecting the US and Canada in Detroit. Canada had offered to pay $550 million to build a new bridge. Matty lost.

❖ Yay Michigan x 2! By 52%, MI voters yesterday repealed Public Act 4 of 2011, the oppressive emergency manager law.

Elizabeth Warren on her victory (US Senator from MA): “I think this is an election where we stuck to our values: Make sure Social Security and Medicare benefits are protected, and millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. To me, that’s the heart of it. That’s really where our basic social contract is reaffirmed.”

❖ Sheila Bair: Let’s pay Congress and the President half their salary in dollars and the other half in 10-year Treasury debt, and tie that to “performance benchmarks”–labor force participation rate, GDP growth, and citizen satisfaction (gauged every 2 years).

❖ Interesting take: Romney lost the race this summer when the Obama campaign began “charging him with shipping companies to China, jobs to India, and his personal wealth to tax havens in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands”–all while Romney was at the Olympics.

❖ Obama’s now a member of an elite group you might have never heard of: Incumbents who get re-elected during years of crisis: Angela Merkel (Germany), Julia Gillard (Australia), Mark Rutte (Netherlands), Stephen Harper (Canada) and Obama.

❖ Oh, those data miners. Working in “the cave”, they dug through tons of data to hit on those gems that would indicate which directions the Obama campaign should pursue to get money and votes. Their work is largely top secret, but the peeks inside are fascinating.

Brad DeLong muses about outcomes had certain things occurred.

Did conservatives lose because their media failed them? “With a few exceptions, [conservative media] haven’t tried to rigorously tell [conservatives] the truth, or even to bring [an] intellectually honest opinion.”

❖ Yesterday, a majority of Puerto Rican voters signaled they want to change their relationship with the US and pursue statehood. Neither US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid nor Speaker of the House John Boehner has had any comment about that so far.

Women & Children

❖ Disturbing data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development pertaining to poverty among older women, including in the US. Poverty rates for OECD and US women are higher than for men until age 26-40 (when the rate for US men begins to drop significantly), but from age 51-65, the poverty rate takes off–remarkably so for women and with US women’s rate exceeding that for their OECD peers. Graph.

❖ Did the Republicans unleashing of their misogynist loonies assure their defeat?

Working for A Living

NH union members worked tirelessly during this campaign, resulting in major victories: Obama won, Maggie Hassan is the next (“labor friendly”) Governor, Annie Kuster won her Congressional race, and Representative Carol Shea-Porter defeated her challenger. There’s still much work to be done, given on-going attacks on collective bargaining and the need to repeal Voter ID–”However our future looks brighter already.”

Three cities in the US voted yesterday to raise the minimum wage: Albuquerque, NM (“raise the minimum wage to $8.50, tie it to inflation, and increase the minimum wage for tipped workers”); San Jose, CA (increase minimum wage to $10.00); and Long Beach, CA (100+-room hotels must either pay $13/hour with paid sick leave for full-time workers or enter into collective bargaining).

❖ The AFL-CIO has launched a “Protect Our Future” campaign, noting that “We Have Eight Weeks to Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid”. Petition at the link.

Heads Up!

Occupy Our Homes has been operating in 20 cities, doing all they can to “help distressed homeowners stave off eviction.” So far, they’ve been involved in 21 campaigns, rescuing 11 homeowners.

Latin America

7.5 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Guatemala this morning. One death reported.

Rising gang violence in Sao Paulo, Brazil has become a major concern with over 90 police officers killed this year. The Justice Minister has announced a new state-federal intelligence center and transferring of prisoners “to more secure jails”. They have rejected sending the military into areas of worst violence.

Break Time

How sweet it is . . .