❖ President Obama and Afghanistan leader Hamid Karzai “have agreed . . . [that] US troops in Afghanistan will end ‘most’ combat operations this spring”.
❖ One Syrian rebel group that the US considers an al Qaida affiliate in Iraq seems “to be on the verge of overrunning a governmental air base that’s used to launch helicopter strikes against rebel-held areas in Syria’s north.” Update: The base has been overrun.
❖ “President Francois Hollande says French troops are taking part in operations against Islamists in northern Mali” and will be there “as long as necessary”.
❖ World Bank President Jim Yong Kim “hopes to elevate the international development institution’s climate change role.”
❖ 5,400 jobs are being cut worldwide by American Express, primarily in its travel business.
Money Matters USA
❖ The Reuters article on “Rise of the zombie title: How thousands of homeowners finding themselves legally liable for houses that were seized by banks but never foreclosed” laying out the stats and presenting families caught in and damaged by the banksters’ foreclosure trap.
❖ The Securities & Exchange Commission is working on a rule which “would compel publicly traded corporations to disclose much of their political spending to investors”. Lobbyists for “Walmart, Chevron and major Fortune 100 companies” are blasting the proposed rule on the SEC’s website–but supporters of the rule outnumber them.
❖ There’s a war going on between “the petroleum industry and several big manufacturing companies” over a potential “major expansion of liquefied natural-gas exports”.
❖ CA Democratic House member Xavier Becerra, head of the House Democratic Caucus, has announced “that he’ll oppose any budget package that includes Social Security cuts.” He’s at odds with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on this.
❖ Treasury Secretary nominee, Jack Lew, was working at Citigroup from 2006-08, “a top executive in the Citigroup unit that housed many of the bank’s riskiest operations, incuding its hedge funds and private equity investments.” That unit experienced “massive losses” which resulted in a $45bn federal bailout. What was Lew’s role?
❖ According to KY Democratic Representative John Yarmuth, Ashley Judd is “very interested” in political office.
❖ Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has announced he won’t seek re-election in 2014. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is “confident” that an “independent-minded Democrat” will replace Rockefeller. Republicans are saying they’ll run a candidate as an “effective check-and-balance” on Democrats who aim “to kill West Virginia’s coal industry and bankrupt our country”.
❖ Newark, NJ Democratic Mayor Cory Booker has filed “organizing papers” with the Federal Election Commission as he intends to run for Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)’s seat.
❖ Remember that Secret Service/local prostitute scandal from President Obama’s visit to Colombia last year? Seems two Drug Enforcement Administration agents were also involved, having “‘facilitated a sexual encounter’ between a prostitute and SS agent.
❖ LA Republican Gov Bobby Jindal wants to eliminate the state’s income and corporate taxes and go with increased sales taxes instead.
❖ On Jerry Brown’s CA budget: “A solid California budget, but still a shaky fiscal foundation”
❖ After appearing on YouTube threatening to kill people if certain gun control measures were approved, TN’s Tactical Response’s founder, James Yeager, has had his handgun carry permit suspended by the TN Dept of Safety & Homeland Security”.
❖ Chart, using UN and CIA World Factbook as sources, on gun-related homicides in the US compared to “other large and affluent countries.”
❖ Montpelier Exempted Village Schools Board of Education in OH has voted to let its janitors carry handguns. The janitors will be “trained to carry handguns around the county’s K-12 campus.” No word on safeguards against making janitors potential targets. Link-through to responsibility and liability concerns.
❖ “Somewhat controversial”? Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio plans to post volunteer posses around schools, including posse members with “criminal pasts”.
❖ Two 22-year-old males walked around Portland, OR with assault rifles strapped on their backs. They were “educating” the public, you see.
❖ Oh, the irony! Gun control in the US, and the Black Panthers.
Women & Children
❖ Déjà-vu all over again. As in 2012, so 2013--Republicans have “spouted off about women lying about rape and our bodies shutting down pregnancy. States are at it again, and the US House has kicked off the legislative session by trying to defund Planned Parenthood.”
❖ GA Republican House member Phil Gingery, OB/GYN, took up the causes of Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and Richard “God intended” Mourdock recently before the Cobb [County,GA] Chamber of Commerce breakfast. Afterwards, Gingery was asked for clarification of pro-Akin and -Mourdock comments he made–with a predictable response.
❖ “Republican Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says that there is one abortion clinic in the state and ‘of course’ his goal is to ‘shut it down’.”
❖ If they’ll only follow through! VA Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli thinks “opponents of a federal mandate for contraception coverage should be willing to ‘go to jail’ to fight the law.” On a more mature note, Planned Parenthood responded “by saying Cuccinelli does not care about women’s health or economic security.”
Working for A Living
❖ “Hundreds of job seekers arriving in the oil boomtown of Williston, N.D., are being sent back to where they came from after ending up homeless.” Since the jobs they hoped for are not there, the homeless can appeal to the Salvation Army for 1-way bus tickets out of town.
❖ Ford is adding 2,200 jobs in 2013–white-collar jobs in “product development, manufacturing and information technology”, full-time, with benefits. Link to jobs website in article.
❖ Talks between First Nation chiefs, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper have been thrown into a tailspin. Some chiefs, including Chief Spence, refuse to meet unless the Governor General David Johnson is also present, and they want more chiefs’ participation in the talks, too. Update: Some chiefs did meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, though Chief Spence and others did not. There is now a split in First Nations leadership. Video here and here
❖ The US and the EU will be sharing “more data on cross-border cybercriminals” very soon.
Planet Earth News
❖ How much more can Australia take? Raging wildfires, tropical cyclone in-coming and a “monster red dust storm”.
❖ Arctic sea ice continues to decrease. Map and chart.
❖ “Video and charts make clear the planet is still warming–and there’s only one way to stop it.”
❖ Yes! The US Marine Corps has ordered that all spouses clubs at Marine bases either admit same-sex spouses or leave the bases.
❖ Silbo gomero, the whistling language (audio included, with translation).
❖ End-of-the-week song