Good evening!

International Developments

❖ “Several Americans” are among the hostages taken by “Islamist militants” in Algeria.  No casualties yet reported.  Other hostages are Norwegian, French, British and Japanese.

❖ Both the Syrian military and the opposition forces continue to deny they were responsible for the attack on Aleppo University yesterday which killed “at least 87 and wounded 200″.

International Finance

British taxpayers are set to erupt in fury since they ” are set to pay $800m . . . in fines as a result of Royal Bank of Scotland traders’ involvement in the Libor interest rate fixing scandal–with nearly all of the money going to the United States.”  The UK government owns 81% of RBS.

❖ Why is Germany moving its gold from the New York Fed?  Various reasons given here, here, here, and here.

Money Matters USA

Net Profits Report, banks:  Goldman Sachs, final quarter of 2012, profits $2.9bn, 3 times the previous year;  JP Morgan, $5.7bn up 54% over previous year of $3.7bn.  Poor Jamie Dimon’s only going to get $11.5m this year, a 54% reduction of his last year’s bonus, given the Whale fail and so forth, though there’s also a woman to  blame.  US Bancorp also posted “a record profit of $4.5 billion in 2012.

❖ The “Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued two orders to JP Morgan Chase” related to two failures–the big whale one and anti-money laundering compliance.  That’s bad enough, but Emptywheel follows through on the markedly different treatment accorded  Jamie Dimon and regular people like Karen Gasparian, “the manager of the G&A Check Cashing company” who got a 5-year sentence “for doing precisely what Jamie Dimon did”.  Don’t miss.

Politics USA

❖ The US House of Representatives has passed the $50.7bn Superstorm Sandy relief bill.

❖ What happened the last time the US didn’t raise the debt ceiling (1979, “and we shouldn’t do it again.”)

❖ US House of Representatives Democrats have introduced a bill to abolish the debt limit.   Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Peter Welch (D-VT), Jim Moran (D-VA), Keith Ellison (D-MN) were among those blasting the Republicans on debt limit issues.

❖ Republicans in PA are introducing a bill under which electoral votes will be tied to congressional districts rather than to state-wide results.  Example: Last November, Democrats won in 5 of PA’s 20 congressional districts, though President Obama carried the entire state.  Under the proposed bill, Obama would have received possibly 7 of the 20 electoral votes, while Romney would have received the other 13.  Factor in gerrymandering and you’ve got a real deal.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) “recognizes that the debt ceiling is going to have to be raised”, joining a small but growing group of Republicans.  Meanwhile, the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity is warning “Republicans that screwing around with the debt ceiling” is become very unattractive.

❖ The White House has said it will respond to those We the People petitions only if the number of signatures is 100,000 or more.

❖ Somebody on the O-Team finally saw the light:  “Episcopal priest chosen for inaugural benediction”.

❖ Former House Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has signed on with Fox News “as a paid contributor”.

❖ The California Democratic Party has called for a 25% reduction in Pentagon spending.

❖ A feller in TN has been charged with stealing $30,000 on the pretense of organizing a Republican campaign forum.

Gun Corner

Travis County, TX was planning to ban gun shows on county property until TX Attorney General Greg Abbott threatened them with a “double-barreled lawsuit”.

❖ TX state Representative Steve Toth (R) will be introducing a bill making “it illegal to enforce in the state any federal laws restricting semi-automatic firearms or the size of gun magazines.”

Linn County, OR Sheriff Tom Mueller will not enforce any laws restricting semi-automatic weapons, per a letter he wrote to Vice President Joe Biden.

❖ If somehow or other you managed to miss them, “Here Are The 23 Executive Orders On Gun Safety Signed Today By The President.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ Adult wage earners have to go where the jobs are–outside the home.  “This creates a crisis in [US] child care and elder care, which can be solved either by paying workers enough to maintain both themselves and their young and old relatives, or by socializing the costs of child care and elder care in one form or another.”

❖ Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Henry Waxman (D-CA) and 43 others have introduced “The Public Option Deficit Reduction Act”.  Not that it might pass and, finally, give the American public the choice, but as a “mostly symbolic effort meant to keep the public option alive”.

The Business Roundtable, comprised of a bunch of corporate CEOs, agree with WI Republican House Member Paul Ryan that Medicare should be privatized, “chained CPI” should apply to Social Security and other things disagreeable to regular Americans.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has taken it a step further and now considers Obamacare ‘fascism’.

Women & Children

63% of those polled by Pew Research Center think Roe v. Wade “should not be overturned”.

❖ The late Dr. George Tiller’s clinic in Wichita, KS is scheduled to reopen soon “with one full-time and two part-time doctors” providing women reproductive health services.  Feminist Majority Foundation members are working with “local, state and federal law enforcement officials” in assessing security at the clinic.

❖  TYT review a video about contraception.  The entire video from  the Children of Mary in Newark, OH.

❖ Once again, women are under attack by certain members of the MT legislature who want to add “unborn child” to “deliberate homicide statutes”.  Even if it passes, Gov. Steve Bullock (D) is expected to veto it, as did former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) before him.

Working for A Living

❖ President Obama ordered a 0.5% pay raise for federal employees, effective March 27th, their first “across-the-board cost-of-living adjustment”  since November 2010.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has announced an upcoming vote to reverse the raise.

Planet Earth News

Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, is leaving the agency “by the end of March.”

Latin America

❖ There’s indication of synthetic cocaine, “pink cocaine“, being produced in Colombia.

51 confirmed cases of cholera in Havana, Cuba.

Mixed Bag

❖ “Japan grounds entire Boeing Dreamliner fleet”.

Break Time

Gold heist saga, west TX style.