Your news wrap-up for this busy Monday, folks:
❖ A MIG-delivered cluster bomb attack in a village near Damascus has resulted in the deaths of 10 children on a playground. The Syrian government has previously denied use of cluster bombs.
❖ Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi met with “top judicial authorities” and agreed that his actions will be “subject to review by the courts”, save one–”protecting the country’s constitutional council from being dissolved by the courts before it finishes its work.”
❖ Seems the Obama administration intends to keep about 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014. Will Kabul agree?
❖ Ehud Barak, long-time Israeli politician and current Defence Minister, is leaving politics next year.
❖ Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has made “a stunning decision”: he’s going to appeal a court ruling that he vacate the office. (It’s all the left-wing’s fault, btw).
❖ Between them, Catalonia’s center-right CiU and left-wing ERC parties have obtained a majority of votes in the recent elections, reflecting growing dissatisfaction with economic policies affecting the province. Whether the parties’ cooperation can result in a referendum on independence from Spain, however, is not clear.
❖ In addition to the mysterious Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, the US has also been engaged with Europe in negotiating a “EU-US free-trade agreement”. They are trying to eliminate certain “frictions”.
❖ Mark Carney, head of Canada’s Bank of Canada, has been named the new Governor of the Bank of England. Interesting assessments, including his being “a fan of rock band AC/DC” (“Highway to Hell”, gulp). Carney spent 13 years with Goldman Sachs–in London, Tokyo, New York and Toronto. Explore more here.
❖ Yves Smith takes a look at a “new show of regulatory resolve” in the wake of recent trading scandals (UBS and JPMorgan, e.g.), only to find that “things will likely have to get worse before anyone in a position of power is willing to demand a banking regime change.”
Money Matters, USA
❖ American shoppers hit the keyboards on Black Friday, charging around a billion dollars worth of stuff they ordered on-line–26% more than last year. There’s another on-line consumer orgy today, “CyberMonday”.
❖ Homeowners whose insurance lapses could find themselves forced to pay up to four times as much for insurance imposed by their mortgage company. This has become a $5.5 billion/year business, with mortgage companies getting a cut.
❖ Quelle surprise! “Lobbyists are appealing a federal court‘s decision to dismiss their lawsuit against President Obama’s policy of banning K Streeters from federal advisory committees.” More quelle surprise! “Obama aides eye jobs as lobbyists on K Street”.
❖ “The Republican’s Post-Norquist Deal: Let Us Cut Medicare and We’ll Give You Romney’s Tax Plan”. Rather, as the author argues, “Seniors on Medicare and Social Security did not cause the Great Recession, Wall Street did. And they should not be asked to pay for the resulting debt.” Elizabeth Warren video.
❖ Whoa! Amazing chart showing that “In 2012, Ten Stocks Are Driving about 88% of the Entire S&P500′s Earnings Growth”–and seven of the 10 are the financial institutions we’ve gotten to know so well.
❖ “Other Things to Think About Besides the Fiscal Cliff” include: Europe’s worsening, unresolved fiscal crisis; weakest earnings in 3 years; “decreasing impact of Federal Reserve QE”; etc
❖ OccupyCongress compares the average pay of a Fortune 500 CEO to that of some of the rest of us. Reminiscent of those pictures of the sun on which a dot is placed to show how small the earth is in comparison.
❖ Liberty University of Lynchburg, VA will apparently have its day in the US Supreme Court, challenging two provisions of the Affordable Care Act: the individual mandate and the mandate “requiring large employers to provide coverage for workers.”
❖ Cook County, IL lost its challenge to the ACLU for “recording police officers performing their duties in public places”. The US Supreme Court blocked enforcement of the IL law that prohibited such activity by leaving intact a lower court decision.
❖ According to former FL Gov Charlie Crist, former FL Republican Party Chair Jim Greer and two long-time GOP consultants, the new FL “law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters”.
❖ Ah, karma. Mitt Romney, who disparaged the 47% of US citizens who are so poor they don’t have to pay federal income taxes, won 47% of all votes cast in the November, 2012 presidential elections. 47.49%, to be exact.
❖ Tom Ricks, author of the new book, “The Generals”, and very recent FDL Book Salon guest, was on Fox news this morning, saying that Fox “hyped” Bengazi, and is “operating as a wing of the Republican party.” Video.
❖ Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) plans to run for the Senate next time around, challenging Democratic Sen. John D. Rockefeller.
❖ A Wal-Mart shoplifting suspect in GA was confronted by two employees and a security guard who tried to restrain him. He was dead by the time the police arrived. An autopsy is scheduled.
❖ Turns out, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula thought of performing public self-immolation to get his urgent message to the American people, but decided instead to make the weird flick “Innocence of Muslims” which has surely had an incendiary effect.
Women & Children
❖ At a Dayton, OH high school recently, two boys raped a girl in the school’s storage closet. She reported the rape–and was suspended for three days. The boys were kicked out of the Drama Club.
❖ Under a 2010 law, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in CA became a misdemeanor subject to a $100 fine for juveniles. During the first year the law was in effect, arrests of juveniles for possession fell 61%–from 14,991 in 2010 to 5,831 in 2011. Overall, arrests of juveniles in CA are now as low as they were when “statewide statistics were first compiled in 1954″.
❖ Courts around the country–CT, NC, NY CO, WY, KS, WA, among others–”have consistently ruled that underfunded schools amount to constitutional violations of children’s right to an education.” And in states such as NJ, MD, CO, MA, “increased spending on basic educational resources has led to demonstrated improved achievement.”
Working for A Living
❖ Approximately 2 million laid-off workers will have no unemployment benefits as of December 31st.
Planet Earth News
❖ In the South Australian desert is the “ultimate something-from-nothing agricultural feat–using the sun to desalinate seawater for irrigation and to heat and cool greenhouses as required, and thence cheaply grow high-quality, pesticide-free vegetables year-round in commercial quantities.”
❖ Longmont is the “first town in Colorado to outlaw hydraulic fracturing“. Longmont now faces a lawsuit from the state (“which insists that only it has the authority to regulate drilling”) and lawsuits from the fracking industry also.
❖ “Confidential personal information“–including Social Security numbers. phone numbers, detectives’ names, etc.–were among the confetti at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Source seems to be the Nassau County Police Department.
❖ Nate Silver presents evidence to support his argument that we’re near “The End of Car Culture”–and not just because of “erratic gas prices and a bad economy”.
❖ OK, so it’s Monday: We need more cowbell!