❖ “More young Syrians disillusioned by the revolution: Many educated, middle-class Syrians who had embraced the opposition now feel alienated by its drift toward extremism–and are aligned with neither side.”
❖ “At least 23 people have been killed by a suicide bomber at a Shia mosque in the Iraqi village of Tuz Khurmato, with scores more wounded”.
❖ “Gospel of Intolerance“: the role American Evangelicals play in Uganda’s violent anti-gay movement. Video.
❖ Dust-up alert: “Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, clashed with a leading hedge fund investor over whether big banks are too opaque during the opening session of the World Economic Forum in [Davos] Switzerland.”
❖ In a “largely symbolic declaration” by the Parliament: “Catalonia Declares Itself a Sovereign Entity”.
❖ Kick the can: UK Prime Minister David “Cameron to Promise Referendum by 2017 on U.K. Leaving EU”.
❖ “UN official calls on British government to investigate undercover police scandal: Maina Kiai says he is ‘deeply concerned’ about use of officers such as Mark Kennedy to infiltrate non-violent groups”. More on Mark Kennedy here, here, here, here (in the US), and here.
Money Matters USA
❖ Timmeh is leaving Treasury on Friday. It was he “who steered the administration of President Barack Obama through the financial crisis”, and what steerage that was!
❖ “Pentagon faces a rebel yell over pensions“. In-a-nutshell: “It is a perfect storm of rising pensions, salaries and healthcare costs. At some point we will be faced with making choices between new weapon systems or entitlements.”
❖ Disappointed bank robber moves on.
❖ “Senate Democratic leaders described House Republicans as in “‘full-on retreat’ on fiscal policy” since Republicans agreed to raise the debt limit and didn’t try to match the debt ceiling increase with spending cuts.
❖ House Representative John Lewis (D-GA) is among several Democrats in the House who are reintroducing a voting rights bill. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is doing so in the Senate.
❖ After winning re-election in November, Representative Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) has decided to “take over a job as head of one of Washington’s largest and most influential trade associations”, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association which just happens to have been “the largest single contributor to her re-election campaigns”.
❖ Couple of researchers “found that wealthier members of Congress were more likely to vote for bills to reduce and repeal the federal estate tax . . . [and to cosponsor] legislation to reduce or repeal the estate tax” than colleagues not so wealthy.
❖ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has told Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to strike a deal “on filibuster reform soon or Democrats will do it on our own.” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has called on Reid to use “the constitutional option”.
❖ A CNN poll found that: 49% agree that “global warming is a proven fact and is due to emissions from cars, power plants and factories”; 53% want the federal government to be “developing a plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to become legal residents”, a reversal from 2011 when 55% approved deportation.
❖ VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) , who will likely run for governor in November, is comparing “his fight against the contraception coverage mandate found in ‘Obamacare’ to the non-violent civil rights struggle led by Martin Luther King, Jr.” Puh-leeze!
❖ Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has reintroduced her Lines Interfere with National Elections Act.
❖ The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is planning a hearing on the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of Boeing Co.’s use of “highly flammable lithium-ion batteries on board its new 787 Dreamliner”.
❖ Gen. John Allen, embroiled in the Petraeus-Broadwell affair, sent emails to another party to the mess, Jill Kelley. Gen Allen has been cleared of wrong-doing by the Pentagon. Seems “there were in fact only several hundred emails exchanged between the two” [emphasis added] although “Some of the messages are not the sort of things you would print in a family newspaper”. No military regulations violated, however, so all’s good.
❖ The United Kentucky Tea Party is “plotting a strategy to defeat U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) in the 2014 Republican primary”.
❖ From the Utah Sheriffs’ Association to President Obama: “. . . we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of [the Second Amendment's] traditional interpretation.”
❖ Interesting: “Gun VIolence in U.S. Cities Compared to the Deadliest Nations in the World”
❖ Organizations behind “Gun Appreciation Day“: Political Media (“a ‘Republican New Media consulting firm”), American Third Position (“a white nationalist political party”), Oath Keepers (government conspiracy types), etc.
❖ The Fontana, CA Unified School District has purchased “14 Colt 6940 rifles at $1,000 apiece to store on campuses around the district.”
❖ Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has introduced legislation amending the criminal code “to make it illegal to purchase firearms on behalf of persons who are prohibited from owning them.”
❖ LA Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal has cut hospice care from LA Medicaid, beginning February 1. AZ tried that but reinstated hospice care as a Medicaid benefit once terminally ill patients turned to much more expensive ERs and hospitals. Jindal’s hospice maneuver is in addition to his attack on the Charity Hospital System. Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) comes to mind.
Women & Children
❖ Pentagon head Leon Panetta is lifting the military ban on women in combat.
❖ 30% increase in reporting of sexual assaults in the US Air Force between 2011 (614) and 2012 (796).” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, before the House Armed Services Committee: “Calling these numbers unacceptable does not do the victims justice. The truth is, these numbers are appalling.”
❖ “How ‘Stop and Frisk’ Is Too Often a Sexual Assault by Cops on Teenagers in Targeted NYC Neighborhoods: Teenagers are harassed and violated in ways you can’t imagine.”
❖ There’s always a woman to blame: “House Republican Leader [Jason Lankford (R-OK)] Blames Gun Violence on ‘Welfare Moms’”
❖ Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) yesterday introduced legislation “to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
❖ Google reports “a ‘steady increase’ in government requests to hand over data from Internet users in the second half of 2012.” The US made 8,438 such requests covering 14,868 users, followed by India with 2,431 requests for 4,106 users, and so on.
❖ After spending 45 minutes with US Attorney General Eric Holder discussing WA’s plans to regulate and tax marijuana, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee said the meeting was “very satisfying” and he will continue to move forward with implementation.
❖ In Mexico, a network called the National Union of Autonomous Regional Peasant Organizations (UNORCA), which “advocates for small farmers’ livelihoods and rights”, held a sit-in in Mexico City as “peasant leaders embark on a hunger strike”, demanding that Mexico “be gmo-free”.
❖ Venezuela President Hugo Chavez is receiving physiotherapy in Cuba, according to Bolivian President Evo Morales who has spoken with Chavez.
❖ Collision course for Betelgeuse.