Good evening, all.

International Developments

❖ “Yemen’s national security chief said on Tuesday that US drone strikes against Al-Qaeda targets will continue”.

❖ The UN is interested in obtaining drones ”to help automate its peacekeeping efforts in conflict regions of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.”  African governments, however, are concerned that the the drones could be used for “Western intelligence gathering purposes.”

International Finance

❖ “The Obama administration is concerned about the impact of a UK referendum on its future relationship with the EU”  since the US wants a “strong British voice within the EU”–and if there isn’t, then the UK “Risks damaging its relationship with America and being sidelined in the international community”.  Whoa.

Morgan Stanley announced plans to cut 1,600 jobs, half in the US , including “more senior employees”.

❖ The CEO of UBS (fined $1.5bn for its role in the Libor scandal) told the UK Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards that banksters are “too arrogant and the industry must change”.  He also said UBS is “overhauling its culture” and is “‘serious about putting integrity over profit.’”

Pressure is building for an increase in German wages–”and by a significant amount, at that.”  As the chair of the German Federation of Trade Unions  in Hesse and Thuringia said, “We cannot allow more and more people to be poor despite being employed.

Money Matters USA

AIG won’t join in the lawsuit against the US over the 2008 bailout, as was reported earlier.

❖ “US oil imports to fall to 25-year low“, with domestic production booming and demand slowing.

❖ The US Government Accounting Office has joined in the big pile-on, saying the US Postal Service  “should prefund its retiree health benefit liabilities to the maximum extent that its finances permit.”  No other federal agency is required to do so and the USPS is losing $25m/day anyway.  The USPS crisis was “manufactured by Congress” and could be easily resolved by Congress.

Politics USA

❖ Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “has introduced legislation to prohibit financial industry executives from sitting on the regional Federal Reserve boards of directors.”

❖ IL Gov. Pat Quinn is ready to sign recently-passed legislation allowing “undocumented immigrants to get temporary driver’s licenses.”

❖ President Barack will nominate Jack Lew to replace Timmeh as US Treasury Secretary.  Who is Jack Lew?

❖ Results of a review of the Clackamas County, OR Elections Office following allegations that a worker had “been tampering with ballots, filling in votes for Republican candidates on ballots that were only partially completed.”

Gun Corner

The White House is “exploring potential changes to gun laws that can be secured strictly through executive action” and yesterday held the first in a series of stakeholders’ meetings to explore possible gun policies.  Update:  Vice-President Joe Biden emphasized that his task force on gun violence was looking at executive orders, too.

❖ Wal-Mart won’t attend Vice-President Joe Biden’s meeting to discuss gun violence because Wal-Mart is just too busy growing the economy, says Tea Party fave Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).  Update:  Wal-Mart will send a representative to Biden’s meeting.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to impose “one of the country’s most restrictive bans on assault weapons.”  Since NY has “some of the toughest gun laws in the country”, Cuomo’s position “reflects a significant change in the national conversation over guns”.

❖ CT Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal is suggesting background checks through the FBI of anybody wanting to purchasing ammunition.

❖ A new poll by Public Policy Polling shows 53% of registered voters support stricter gun control laws.  41% support having armed police offers in the nation’s schools.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ Republican Gov. Susana Martinez announced NM will join about 15 other states that will be expanding their Medicaid programs.  NM’s expansion will cover 170,000 more low-income adults.

FL Republican Gov. Rick Scott “is knowingly citing inaccurate cost estimates to justify his refusal to expand Florida’s Medicaid program”.  Scott was CEO of Columbia/HCA  which was charged with fraudulent practices, including Medicare billing fraud.

A strain of gonorrhea resistant to all oral antibiotics has made its appearance in Toronto.  One injectable antibiotic combination works against it at the moment.

Women & Children

❖ CO Democratic Senator Mark Udall says congress should “quickly pass a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women ACT.”

Working for A Living

❖  While WI’s unemployment rate (6.7%) is “well below the national average of 7.7%”, it is 42nd among the states in job creation and ranks lowest among  surrounding states in job creation (1.5% compared to 2.9% for MI, 2.6% for OH, 2.0% for IA, etc).

AFSCME, which represents “most of [the PA lottery's] 230 employees” apparently has a plan to operate the lottery rather than have the state agree to a “lucrative proposal from an outside firm [Camelot Global Services PA LLC]  seeking to oversee . . . scratch tickets and jackpot games.”

Heads Up!

Drones for personal and commercial use present many issues.  While the Federal Aviation Administration is issuing guidelines and permit, rules governing model aircraft are supposed to apply, but “it appears those rules are being put to the test.”

Occupy Homes MN responds to the $8.5bn federal foreclosure settlement, in part:  “We will not be placated by a settlement that provides nominal damages without addressing the roots of the crisis or preventing further financial crimes against working people.”

Major medical marijuana provider Harborside Health Center in Oakland, CA will not have to vacate its business space, according to a US District Court judge, thereby opening the door for Harborside “to battle the federal civil forfeiture actions in court.”

❖  Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, who earlier said “legalization is not in my vocabulary and it’s not in the president’s”, said yesterday that they’re “in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.”  Stay tuned.

Planet Earth News

❖  After “a series of blunders and accidents involving Shell Oil’s drill ships and support equipment, culminating in the grounding of one of its drilling vessels last week off the coast of Alaska,” the US Interior Dept is opening “an urgent review of Arctic offshore drilling operations.”

OSGATA (Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association) is headed “to federal appeals court to be free from ‘legal threats and intimidation’ from genetically modified giant” Monsanto.  They don’t want to have anything to do with Monsanto and they don’t want “to have to defend ourselves from aggressive assertions of patent infringement . . ..  We want justice.”

❖  According to a UN climate official, since 2012 was the hottest on record for the US, there “must be a strong policy and civil society response.”  As if on cue:  ”Barack Obama ‘seriously considering‘ hosting climate summit”.

Latin America

❖ “A hacker in Brazil has published sensitive personal data of politicians convicted during a major corruption trial” which led to jail sentences for people in former president Luz Inacio Lula da Silva’s staff and party.

❖ Venezuela’s Supreme Court “has ruled that the postponement of President Hugo Chavez’s inauguration for a new term in office is legal.”

Mixed Bag

Asteroid Apophis decided to just do a fly-by this time, though it’ll have another chance for a very close visit in 2036.

Break Time

❖ More avian glory.