Your Friday news:
❖ More than 500 dead, 400 missing and 310,000 homeless in the aftermath of typhoon Bopha’s slamming into the island of Mindanao, Philippines.
❖ Egyptians protesting against President Mohammed Morsi have rejected his call for dialogue, have broken through police barricades of the Presidential Palace and are now clashing with the Army in Cairo. Morsi supporters are also on the move. Update: The referendum on the new Egyptian constitution, scheduled for December 15, has been delayed.
❖ “China calls US Tibet remarks ‘disgusting’: Foreign ministry furious after US diplomat says Tibet tensions, including self-immolations, have been exacerbated by Beijing.” Speaking of hubris: “China to flatten 700 mountains for new metropolis in the desert: Lanzhou new area plan to begin with ‘mountain-moving project’, but financial and environmental wisdom of project questioned”.
Money Matters USA
❖ Could it be that public debt is not nearly as important as private debt? Video.
❖ “Calculate your ‘fiscal cliff’ tax bill“.
❖ Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Guatemala are some of the countries targeted for “drug interdiction missions such as crop spraying, and the transport of personnel and cargo”. The US State Department is accepting bids for the $10 billion set aside for security contractors to operate the aircraft, etc., involved. State also list countries into which they may expand such activities. Interesting list.
❖ Apparently, they’ve sent in the play: IL Democratic Senator Dick Durbin “said he is open to alternatives including expanded means-testing . . . for Medicare.” Seems Democratic Senator from NY Chuck Schumer is in agreement. “Republicans need a concession on entitlement programs”, you see. Are we playing offense or defense here?
❖ In the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi (CA) appears to be standing her ground in objecting to Republicans’ desires to raise the eligibility age for Medicare.
❖ WI Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s former associate, Kevin Kavanaugh, has been sentenced to two years in prison for “embezzling money from a veterans’ group.” Kavanaugh apologized in court. “Judge Michael Guolee called the apology ‘worthless’.”
❖ Those legendary Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence crashed a dinner being held in San Francisco’s Union Square for Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Great pics.
❖ Apparently, the allure of the Appalachian Trail is of more finite duration than the allure of politics: Former SC Gov. Mark Sanford, Republican, caught just a few years back having an extra-martial affair, might make a run for the Senate seat being vacated by Jim DeMint.
❖ SC Republican Gov. Nikki Haley may appoint Chad Walldorf as a place-holder (see previous item) for the Senate seat of departing member Jim DeMint.
❖ Although they claimed to be upset about MO Republican Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin’s pronouncements about rape, the GOP actually gave $760,000 to Akin‘s failed campaign to unseat Senator Claire McCaskill. Democrats are enraged.
❖ Guidelines under the Prison Rape Elimination Act were officially implemented today by executive order in which President Obama said: “This rule expresses my Administration’s conclusion that PREA applies to all Federal confinement facilities.”
Women & Children
❖ MI’s Republican-dominated Legislature passed a law excluding elective abortions from the state’s Affordable Care Act exchanges “unless the coverage is offered as a separate optional rider purchased by women”. They also passed a bill “that would let health facilities assert as a matter of conscience an objection to participating health services”–though they would have to tell patients where to go to obtain such services.
❖ Renewal of the Violence Against Women Act was done without a hitch for 18 years, but is now stuck in the House, specifically in Eric Cantor (R-TN)’s office. Cantor’s hung up on the prospect of having tribal courts “oversee domestic violence offenses committed against Native American women by non-Native American men on tribal lands.” Never mind that American Indian women are raped at twice the national rate, and that 86% of those rapes are by non-Native men.
❖ Men wanting to purchase erectile dysfunction drugs (Viagra, etc.) would have to undergo a psychological evaluation, if OH state Sen. Nina Turner (D) is successful in her efforts. “The men in our lives, including members of the General Assembly, generously devote time to fundamental female reproductive issues–the least we can do is return the favor,” she says.
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
❖ Medical devices implanted into a patient’s body collect information, and that information can be sold–in aggregated form–”to health systems or insurance companies.” Patients, however, cannot obtain data about themselves from the devices unless their physicians share it.
❖ A committee from the National Institute of Medicine has determined that “The board of California’s stem cell funding agency is rife with conflicts of interest and should be restructured to improve the integrity of its grant-making process”. CA’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine has $3 billion to “dole out to researchers over 10 years.”
Working for A Living
❖ Public-sector unions in RI have sued to have the state’s pension reform thrown out since it “clearly violates their implied contracts with the state.”
❖ They’re facing 20 years in prison–Greg Boertje-Obed, Michael Walli and 82-year old Sister Megan Rice. They splashed blood and spray-painted peace messages on walls of a “secretive storage facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn.” They rejected an earlier plea deal.
Planet Earth News
❖ KXL Pipeline meet Gateway Pacific export terminal. Big coal wants the latter, bringing black ore from WY and MT via rail to WA’s Puget Sound. It’s described as a “water-polluting, taxpayer-subsidized job killer. The sole reason the proposal exists is for investors in Peabody, Goldman Sachs, BNSF Railway, and SSA Marine to make a fortune from federally-owned coal by shipping it to Asian countries.”
❖ Seems the University of TX’s Energy Institute has withdrawn papers from its website after a “trio of noted science administrators and scholars” uncovered “undisclosed financial interests” behind production of those papers. The lead investigator retired “last month” and the Institute director has resigned.
❖ Japanese scientists “who help set Japan’s radiation exposure limits have for years” and have “given optimistic assessments about the health risks of radiation”, have attended many international meetings with their expenses paid by the nuclear utilities.
❖ Here’s one made-to-order for DDay: “Silvio Berlusconi ‘to run for Italy PM again’”