Good evening!

International Developments

❖  Insightful report on Mali, which might become a French “quagmire”.  Mali’s north is isolated politically and economically; military actions only exacerbate the north’s problems. Massive inflow of weapons from Libya;   in-flux of extremists battling colonial powers; investors grabbing resources (oil and gold and land). And the refugees–200,000 estimated so far.

US airlifts of French troops to Mali have begun.

❖ “US drone strikes publicly criticised by Yemeni cabinet minister”

❖ “U.S. drone kills four al Qaeda members in Yemen”

❖ Office space for the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, courtesy of the US and Afghanistan.  If the Taliban aren’t talking with the Afghan government within six months, though, the office will be closed.

International Finance

❖ “Greece has brought criminal charges against [three officials] responsible for measuring the country’s debt, thereby calling into question the validity of its €172bn second bailout by the EU and the International Monetary Fund.”

Mussolini bought Vatican recognition of his regime–a sum that’s since grown to its present £500m+ and has been used to purchase UK, Paris and Swiss properties.  But the Vatican doesn’t do such purchases openly, relying instead on shadowy entities–and offshore tax havens.  JP Morgan is also involved.

Elderly people threaten to become such a drain on the economy, that Japan’s FInance Minister Taro Aso says “Let elderly people ‘hurry up and die’”.  Further, he “would refuse end-of-life care [for himself] and would ‘feel bad’ knowing treatment was paid for by government.” He calls elderly, incapacitated patients “tube people”.

❖ During 2012, the number of unemployed worldwide grew by 4 million to 197 million–and is expected to grow by 5.1 million in 2013.

Money Matters USA

❖  The handling of the $8.5bn settlement between the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency/the Federal Reserve and mortgage servicers is worse than thought.  Yves Smith presents the first two installments of “Bank of America Foreclosure Reviews: Whistleblowers Reveal Extensive Borrower Harm and Orchestrated Coverup” (Part I, Part II).  Steamy stuff.  US Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) of the House Financial Services Committee has begun an inquiry.  DDay alerted us to this “complete tragedy” beginning here and here.

❖  “America’s response to the Great Migration [of blacks from the US south to the north] was to enact a one-sided social contract . . . The half-assed social contract” which has been used to suppress black people.

❖ “Former Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) [is now] chief executive officer of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners”, responsible for implementing  the Affordable Care Act.  He’ll also be “advising” a K-street outfit, Agenda–which is exempt from the requirement that two years must elapse before former senators can be hired by lobbying firms.

❖ One of con man R. Allen Stanford’s partners has been sentenced to 5 years for his role in the fraud.  He’d asked for 4 since he’d cooperated with the feds in the case.

Politics USA

❖ Addressing an enthusiastic crowd in the WI Capitol, Dr. Margaret Rozga accepted the MLK 2013 Heritage Award given to her late husband, the legendary Father James Groppi.  In her brief remarks, Dr. Rozga emphasized “voting rights, union rights and natural resources”–with Republican Gov. Scott Walker sitting behind her.  Video.

Republicans in the VA state senate took advantage of one Democrat’s absence to attend the inauguration and pushed through a “redistricting” bill.  Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has some ambitious legislation he wants considered and needs Democratic cooperation, is not happy.  What will he do?

❖ That recent West Point right-wing domestic terrorism report has hit a nerve.  E.g., according to David Sirota,  the report “exposes the depths of conservatives’ denial”, such as accepting reports of Muslim security threats without concern “for the whole ‘innocent until proven guilty’ stuff” but reacting to being identified as a security threat themselves by “insisting that the Big Bad Government is wrongly demonizing them.”

55% of ME voters now disapprove Gov. Paul LePage (R)’s job performance.

That goofy Citadel scheme, a  ’wingers’ Eden in Idaho, has an application fee of $208.  So far, $40,000 have been raised.  Problem is, the fellow in charge spent 30 months in prison nine years ago for “extortion and possessing . . . unregistered firearm.”

Gun Corner

❖ “If you judge by this fundraising email sent by his campaign manager, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has lost his freaking mind.”  Ditto Ted Nugent, but you knew that.

❖ “Lone Star College Shooting: Multiple People Shot At Texas College Campus”, Houston.

❖ “Just after midnight today, a SWAT deployed stun grenades at the front door of a building [in Colorado City, TX] where three had been barricaded for about nine hours” after running from a lawman and “firing shots at him”.

❖ The NM 15-year old who shot and killed his parents and 3 younger siblings has told police he intended from there to go “drive to populated area to murder more people”.

❖ “Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced legislation Tuesday that would make it illegal to manufacture or sell a magazine that contains more than 10 rounds.”

Women & Children

Redding, CT children marching for change.

❖ “A respected religious counselor in New York City’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community was sentenced Tuesday to 103 years in prison for molesting a girl who came to him with questions about her faith.”  59 counts.

NBC/Wall Street Journal poll:  70% of  US adults say Roe v. Wade should not be overturned.  54% of US adults “say that abortion should be legal either always or most of the time” and only 9% thought abortion should be illegal “without any exceptions”.   Pew Research Center poll results show 62% of all adults–but only 44% under the age of 30–understood that Roe v. Wade “affirmed the legality of a woman’s right to abortion”.

TX Republican Gov. Rick Perry has vowed to wants a “fetal pain bill” passed in the Legislature.

Education Directions

❖ “Alabama’s two-year college chancellor wants . . . enrollment in community college courses free for high school students”.  He continued: “We’ve spent a decade preparing students for a test rather than preparing students for adulthood and for a career and college”.  Well said.

Planet Earth News

❖ The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) has found food fraud even higher this year than last–up by 60%.  Their data base has been obtained by ABC News  and will be released tomorrow.

Scientists are “developing ways to add non-toxic tracers to drilling fluid so if groundwater is contaminated, investigators would be able to pinpoint if an oil or gas drilling operation was to blame.”  Result:  “a DNA fingerprint for each well”.

❖ At the Environmental and Clean Energy Inaugural Ball, the Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change “told the crowd, ‘Energy and climate policy are going to be a top priority; in Obama’s second term.”  And there were more such statements.

❖  NE Republican Gov. Dave Heineman has “approved the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route . . . which avoids the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region of Nebraska”.

❖ The US Supreme Court today rejected Asarco LLC’s appeal challenging  the “authority a top federal environmental regulator should have in setting air quality standards”.  Asarco, of Grupo Mexico SAB, operates a US copper smelter.

❖ “Hyundai plant one of 100 factories shutting down in wake of Beijing pollution scare”

Break Time

❖ Let’s go to Shady Grove.