Back from your weekend and ready for some news?

International Developments

❖ “French forces advance towards northern Mali:  Militant fighters are said to have withdrawn from key town of Diabaly, but French military says situation is still unclear.”

❖ “Five suspected members of the Islamist group which  held foreign and local workers hostage at” the Amenas gas installation in Algeria have been arrested, rather than killed as earlier reported.

❖ Déjà vu: “U.N. report finds torture of Afghan detainees, secret sites”.

“West fears jihadist resurgence”, as most dramatically expressed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, “This is a global threat and it will require a global response . . . that is about years, even decades, rather than months.”  Others are not so pessimistic.

International Finance

❖ As the UK slides “towards an unprecedented triple-dip recession“, George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, is urging they “Back down on austerity”. Perhaps he understands the Law of Holes.

❖ “Oxfam said the world’s poorest could be lifted out of poverty several times over should the richest 100 billionaires give away the money they made last year.”  That’s $240bn raked in for their personal aggrandizement in one year.

The Royal Bank of Scotland “awaits hefty fine for Libor rigging: Stephen Hester lays groundwork for penalties expected to be  £500  or more”.

Cyprus will have to wait “at least two more months [for its bailout funds] amid mounting disagreement over how to bring down the cost to a manageable level for the debt-laden government.”  Concerns include “Russian money-laundering in the Cypriot banking system.”

❖ Oh, my:  Disclosure of those tax shelters in the Cayman Islands?

Money Matters USA

Obama to appoint Mary Jo White to head up the Security and Exchange Commission?  Yves Smith:  ”The last cynical theory I can come up with is that Obama regards the SEC as so unfixable that it doesn’t matter if he appoints a superwoman”.

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, got a $19m bonus this year on top of his $2m salary.  Every dog has its day, though in this case it’s “its year” since he got a 75% increase over last year.

112,000 US home loan borrowers are supposed to receive some payback from the $249m HSBC has agreed to pay as part of its deal with the Federal Reserve and Officer of the Comptroller of the Currency.  “Combined with the HSBC payment, nearly 4.2 million borrowers will receive a total of $3.6 billion in cash and benefits from $5.7 billion in mortgage assistance”.

Politics USA

❖ “The Obama administration is nearing completion of a detailed counterterrorism manual that is designed to establish clear rules for targeted-killing operations but . . . would allow the CIA to continue pounding al-Qaeda and Taliban targets for a year or more before the agency is forced to comply with more stringent rules”.

❖  “Condoleezza Rice takes job as CBS contributor”.  She always got the news so right as in here (@ 4:35), here, here, here and here.

❖ Meanwhile, over at MSNBC, ol’ Morning Joe himself said that “just gerrymandering” enabled Republicans to hang on to the US House this year.

Gun Corner

Democratic NV State Assemblyman Steven Brooks was arrested last night after threatening to shoot the Speaker-elect.  He had a loaded gun on him.

Three people were accidentally shot at the Dixie Gun & Knife Show in Raleigh, NC.

A man shot himself at an indoor gun range in Pflugerville, near Austin, TX.

Weapon accidentally discharged at one gun show in Wilmington, NC injured three people (including a Sheriff’s deputy).  A man at the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show in Indianapolis, IN shot himself in the hand, accidentally.

Two women shot while attending soccer game in Las Vegas, NV.

One teenager accidentally shot in the stomach by a friend in Laurel County, KY

One man accidentally shot himself in the leg and arm at the Medina County [OH] gun show.

15-year-old boy shot two adults and three children in Bernalillo County, NM.

A six-year-old girl in Cleveland, OH was shot in the face with a gun; could be self-inflicted.

❖ Round up (including the Cleveland item above) of gun violence involving children over the past week.

Texans own some 28,690 registered machine guns.  You can own one, too, if you have $75,000.

❖ Although “there has been a sharp uptick in calls from militants for armed resistance and civil war”, no specific threats have been issued against members of Congress.

Working for A Living

❖ Big blow: A US Court of Appeals upheld Act 10, WI’s law eliminating “most collective bargaining rights from most public employees in the state.”

Heads Up!

❖ The Nation has launched a new biweekly “Dispatches From the US Student Movement“.  This week’s updates include activities in NC, SUNY-Buffalo, Students United for Public Education, Rocky Mountain Student Power, Harvard, GA, OH, IN,  etc.   Do check it out.

❖ Yes!  “I think in 2013, the people and groups at the forefront of antipoverty thinking and action are poised to reach a much wider audience, and gain far greater popular support.”  Why?  “The interests of low-income people and a shrinking middle class are converging”.

❖ “Eight Ways to Take Part in Idle No More”

❖ 19% responding to a HuffPost/YouGov poll think the war on drugs has been worth it, while 53% say no.  The remainder were “not sure”.

Planet Earth News

Food grown through sustainable agriculture is not only good for us, but makes the planet healthier, too.

❖ The coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in AZ, crucial for electricity in Los Angeles, CA and for water pumped from the Colorado River to AZ communities, is also a major pollution emitter.  The Environmental Protection Agency has just extended by five years the date the power plant must have installed “expensive state-of-the art emissions reduction equipment.”

❖ “European mammals make like Gerard Depardieu, flee to Russia”.

Whole Foods’ CEO, John Macky, has called the Affordable Care Act “socialism” and “fascism” and has now declared “climate change ‘perfectly natural and not necessarily bad.’”

Latin America

Guatemala President Perez Molina called on Western nations to recognize the price being paid for the War on Drugs.  “The flow of arms towards Central America from the north and deaths in our country have grown.”  Meanwhile, drug users “should reflect not only on the harm to their own health, but also on the deaths that enable them to consume that cocaine.”

Mixed Bag

❖ A river–a huge river–once flowed on Mars.

Break Time

❖ The perilous courtship of the Peacock Spider.  Or, if you don’t like spiders, just take a dip in Jane Austen’s Bath.