❖ “In Rebuke to Obama, Netayahu--Much of Western Europe to Support Palestine as UN Observer State”, a significant step up from “entity”. Update: By 138-9, with 41 abstentions, “The UN General Assembly has voted to grant the Palestinians non-member observer state status”. On this day in 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine.
❖ Iran has delayed “the startup of a plutonium-producing reactor until 2014″, reducing threats of immediate military strikes against Iran and giving diplomatic efforts a chance.
❖ “Syrian rebels battled forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad just outside Damascus on Thursday, restricting access to its international airport, and the Dubai-based Emirates airline and EgyptAir stopped flights to the Syrian capital.”
❖ “A court in Qatar, which has supported Arab uprising abroad, jailed a local poet for life on Thursday for criticizing the emir and inciting revolt–[producing] outrage and cries of hypocrisy from human rights groups.”
❖ In Burma “farmers, monks and activists” are protesting “forced evictions” so a copper mine can be expanded. The mine is “jointly owned by the Burmese military and Chinese arms manufacturer Norinco.” Water cannons have been used against the protestors. Aung San Suu Kyi is on her way to the site.
Money Matters USA
❖ It seems likely the Federal Reserve will continue its bond-buying program in 2013. Under this program, immense stockpiles of long-term mortgage-backed securities and Treasury bonds” are accumulated by the Fed in an effort to “drive down borrowing costs [while] boosting prices of stocks and homes, and stimulating hiring, spending and investment.”
❖ Federal Communications Commission Chair, Julius Genachowski is pushing to loosen bans on “newspaper/TV cross-ownership . . . in the top 20 markets and [eliminate] the ban on radio/TV [and radio/newspaper] cross-ownership.” Just so happens Rupert Murdoch wants to buy the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune–but he already owns teevee stations in those areas. Credo has a petition.
❖ Susan Rice, Obama’s apparent choice for next Secretary of State, has “millions of dollars” invested in “Canadian oil companies and banks with stakes in the $7 billion Keystone XL Pipeline.”
❖ Former Sen. Chuch Hagel (R-NE) “is being vetted for a possible top national security post”.
❖ Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill on Grover Norquist’s Pledge: “Congress was willing to cause severe economic damage to the entire population . . . simply because they were slaves to an idiot’s idea of how the world works”.
❖ Grover’s two main funders are the Koch Brothers through their Center to Protect Patients Rights (almost $4.2 million in 2010, 34% of the budget for that year) and KKKKarl’s Crossroads GPS ($4 million, or 32.5% of the budget).
❖ Michigan Republican lawmakers just might use the lame-duck session to pass one of those “right-to-work” laws, requiring union members to “pay the costs of representing their coworkers who choose not to join a union”.
❖ According to the Government Accountability Office, Guantanamo prison could be closed and the 166 people held there sent to prisons across the US. “373 prisoners convicted of terrorism are already held in 98 prisons across the country.”
Women & Children
❖ Girls in juvenile detention: 41% “have signs of vaginal injury consistent with sexual assault”, around 33% are or were pregnant, 8% tested positive for tuberculosis (skin test), 30% need but do not have glasses. US juvenile detention facilities are not equipped to deal with the “complex health needs” of girls in detention–let alone seize the opportunity to help the girls meet the future.
❖ Girls in Los Angeles County’s foster care system are being recruited for prostitution. “The average age of entry into prostitution is 12 years old, and the average life expectancy following entry is seven years”.
❖ The last abortion clinic in MS is fighting closure, filing a legal motion to block a state law requiring the clinic’s physicians to have admitting privileges at the local hospital, which hasn’t granted them. The purpose of the law was to close the clinic, which looks likely at this point.
❖ Cadillac Ranch owner, TX millionaire Stanley Marsh 3, has been charged with 11 felony counts of child molestation.
❖ In 2011 the U.S. birth rate fell “to a record low.” Overall, the rate declined 8% from 2007-2010–6% for US-born women and 14% for foreign-born women.
❖ “[M]any of the same for-profit school corporations” and many of the “same hard-right foundations bent on privatizing public schools” fund Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and ALEC. And don’t forget Neil Bush’s Ignite! (here and here).
❖ A bill has now passed the IL House which allows Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to punt until summer on designating which 100 Chicago schools he intends to close and producing a 10-year plan to document the why, when, how and outcomes–including the direct and lasting impact on communities–of the closures. He wants to open 60 charter schools. Confusion and deep distrust.
❖ LA Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “controversial school voucher program is getting its day in court.” Under this program, qualified families can use taxpayers’ dollars to pay for private school tuition.
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
❖ The US Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Inspector General has just issued a report on Medicare’s Electronic Health Record Incentive Program. Seems Medicare has “spent billions” paying 74,317 health professionals and 1,333 hospitals to use the system–with no mechanism in place to make sure they are using it correctly.
❖ AZ Republican Governor Jan Brewer has announced that AZ will not set up a state-based heath insurance exchange. Deadline for states to confirm their decision is December 13th.
❖ “Johnson & Johnson announced Thursday that it would not enforce its patents on its AIDS drug Prezista [generic version: darunavir] in the world’s poorest countries and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.”
Working for A Living
❖ “Eight hundred members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Local 63 Office Clerical Unit walked off their jobs yesterday” in Los Angeles and Long Beach to protest ship management’s ongoing job outsourcing activities. Other ILWU members (Locals 13 and 94) are honoring the strike. Just in time for all those holiday goods to come in.
Planet Earth News
❖ The Institute for Policy Integrity has threatened to sue the US Environmental Protection Agency “to take immediate steps to begin regulating carbon emissions from cars, planes and off-road vehicles.” The EPA is caught in an intense struggle between states opposing it, such as VA and TX, industry giants and environmentalists.
❖ The Inuit of AK are facing some hard decisions. Shell Oil has finally won US permission to commence exploratory drilling. The Inuit need jobs, but recognize the proposed drilling is a threat to their way of life, going back thousands of years, including destruction of the food chain.
❖ In a dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua, the International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled that some islands in the Caribbean belong to Colombia while some 19,000 square miles of “potentially oil-rich” waters belong to Nicaragua. “Colombia has announced it no longer recognises the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice”.
❖ Argentina will be allowed to appeal a US judge’s ruling that it must pay $1.3 billion to hedge funds, including Elliott Management’s NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management. Argentina maintains these are “vulture funds”. Fitch has downgraded Argentina’s credit rating from B to CC, seeing “probable default”.
❖ Frida Kahlo’s clothes closet. Video.
❖ Einstein’s brain. Literally.
❖ Major melt-down on its way.