Good evening, all!

International Developments

Targeted killings issues: 1) The number of civilian casualties is unknown since the administration “cannot give its side of the story in any credible way”; 2) There is not “a single report of a drone strike actually halting a truly imminent attack” on the US; 3) Due to secrecy, we don’t know if drone strikes are being used against “enemies of states with which we are seeking to curry favor” (Pakistan, Yemen); 4) Why are so-called “signature strikes” (slippery to define in any case) being used in Yemen? Biggest issue of all: How do we “hold our leaders accountable to the laws they claim to be following in secret”?

❖ This’ll knock the breath out of you: “The US Military Approves Bombing Children“. The author quotes an Army Lt. Colonel: “It kind of opens our aperture. In addition to looking for military-age males, it’s looking for children with potential hostile intent.”

Supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi have “clashed” in Cairo. Apparently, a sit-in by about 300 Morsi opponents was interrupted by Muslm Brotherhood members.

❖ Good grief! Serbian ambassador to NATO, Branislav Milinkovic “was chatting and joking with colleagues in a multistory parking garage at Brussels Airport” when he turned, flung himself over a barrier and plunged to his death on the ground below.

International Finance

UK firm Tesco is pulling out of the US supermarket business after 30 years. No word yet on what will happen to its US Fresh & Easy stores.

Money Matters, USA

US households’ median net worth fell a whopping 47% between 2007-2010, with the middle class hit disproportionately hard. Why? The “economic crisis was first and foremost a housing crisis” and houses “are by far the biggest store of wealth” for the middle class. Second, the middle class had amassed “loads and loads of debt . . .to cover everyday expenses”–a debt burden that escalated from 41% in 2001 to 61% in 2007.

❖ “Tax the Traders! It Would Solve Economic Crisis and Stop Reckless Activity: A tax on financial transactions will give us gobs of revenue.” So says Eliot Spitzer–to big applause.

❖ Poor things, they’re really having to scramble, given uncertainties associated with the “fiscal cliff” drama. Larry Ellison of Oracle gets $198.9 million in dividend payout at year’s end, Sheldon Adelson $1.2 billion, etc. All total, about $22 billion in dividends from 110 companies–$3.3 billion to be paid in taxes.

US home prices went up 6.3% in October–the most since July 2006.

Tax the Rich: An Animated Fairy Tale.

Politics, USA

❖ An eye-popper and a half–a hugely tangled, well-financed, and incestuous web. The place: “[F]ifth floor of 66 Canal Center Plaza, Alexandria, VA 22314.” The tenants (sample only): “Black Rock Group, Crossroads Media, WWP Strategies, TargetPoint Consulting, and Americans for Job Security.” While their presidential campaign and GOTV effort both flopped, the consultants at said address made out very well indeed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has seemingly put his foot down: “We’re going to change the [filibuster] rules. We cannot continue in this way.”

Fear is what some conservative Republicans are supposedly feeling, since their leadership has “stripped” committee seats from four of them this week. One, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) summarized the situation by saying “It’s petty, it’s vindictive”. Well, yes.

❖ Things have gotten so bad at Fox News, what with their miscalling just about all the political contests in November, that they have benched KKKKarl–and Dick Morris, too. Fox, btw, is supposed to be rehabbing its image.

❖ Proving that the Law of Holes favors neither the rich nor poor, “Sheldon Adelson Vows to ‘Double’ Donations To GOP After Huge 2012 Election Failure”.

Republicans’ Voter ID efforts this year “flipped the switch” with African-American voters.

FL’s Secretary of State Ken Detzner (Rep) has had a change of heart and now will investigate “the state’s dysfunctional elections this year, which led to marathon lines and the rejection of countless legitimate votes.”

CA Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer has introduced a bill to prevent “voters from having to wait more than an hour to vote”.

Terry McAufliffe (Dem) has a clear field ahead in the 2013 VA governor’s race since Tom Perriello (Dem) has said he will not run.

❖ Musical chairs trend? CA state Assemblyperson Ben Hueso-Democrat will be running for the CA senate seat being vacated by Juan Vargas-Democrat who has been elected for the US Congress seat being vacated by Bob Filner-Democrat who has become San Diego Mayor. Going back to square 1: if Hueso wins, there’ll be a special election to fill his Assembly seat in the largely Democratic district.

❖ Uh-oh. “The FBI assesses with medium confidence, based on reliable source reporting and reports from other law enforcement agencies, some sovereign citizen extremistsb [sic] are making more specific plans to interfere with state and local law enforcement officers during traffic stops . . . in some cases, intentionally initiating contact with law enforcement.”

Women & Children

❖ The OK Supreme Court decided to “follow the mandate of the United States Supreme Court on matters of federal constitutional law” in declaring OK abortion laws unconstitutional which: required women to look at “an ultrasound image placed in front of them while they hear a description of the fetus” and that “ban off-label use of certain abortion-inducing drugs”.

Working for A Living

International Longshore Workers Union Local 63 have called off their strike at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports “after securing good jobs with outsourcing controls.” The strike, involving 450 clerical workers and honored by all 10,000 ILWU members, was in effect for about a week.

Superstorm Sandy “wreaked havoc on the job market in November, slicing an estimated 86,000 jobs from payrolls.” Altogether, there were 118,000 new private sector jobs reported.

Planet Earth News

❖ In a nutshell: “In 2011, rich nations spent $58 billion on [fossil fuel] subsidies and just $11 billion for climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.” In the US, $13 billion went to “fossil fuel subsidies in 2011 and just $2.5 billion in climate aid.”

❖ A new method of measuring such things shows that CA’s nitrous oxide level is 8% of its total greenhouse gas emissions. (Previously thought to be 3%.)

Mixed Bag

❖ RIP, Dave Brubeck

❖ More cosmic splendor from Hubble.

Break Time

Brubeck Treasure Trove.