Good evening, all!
❖ “UN to examine UK and US drone strikes: Strikes will be studied to assess extent of any civilian casualties, identity of militants targeted and legality of actions.”
❖ “Days after the deadly hostage crisis in Algeria, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands on Thursday warned of an imminent threat to Westerners in neighboring Libya and urged their citizens to leave the eastern city of Benghazi.”
❖ “‘Getting Worse’: Egypt’s gays fear government crackdown”
❖ They wanted to hide, but a British judge has ordered release of the names of Barclays “ex CEOs Bob Diamond and John Varley and current Finance Director Chris Lucas . . . alongside traders linked to a probe into rate fixing”, Libor. (Cannot resist: one of the other names is Rich Ricci.)
❖ Morgan Stanley’s most toxic asset was called “Nuclear Holocaust”, “Shitbag” and other tender names. Since the US Dept of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission “have failed to hold big wrongdoers to account,” the onus fell to a Taiwanese Bank, resulting in “Hundreds of pages of internal Morgan Stanley documents” being released, revealing much.
❖ “Racing To The Revolution: Spain Vs Greek Youth Unemployment”–now at 55%.
Money Matters USA
❖ Great Glenzilla run-down of the Dept of Justice’s failures (including Lanny Breuer) to investigate and prosecute the banksters, with great quotes from keen observers and critics. More from Emptywheel.
❖ While Obama has nominated “U.S. attorney Mary Jo White, who built a reputation prosecuting white-collar crimes, to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, an agency that has a central role in implementing Wall Street reform”, Yves Smith’s concerns remain.
❖ Stiglitz and Bilmes: “No US peace dividend after Afghanistan: Bad decisions exact a high price”. $700bn spent on a war that will produce enormous growth in “costs of disability and healthcare benefits for recent war veterans”, 800,000 of whom are already “receiving government medical care”. Veterans Affairs budget: “$140bn this year from $50bn in 2001.” Much more.
❖ “[E]ight members of the ruling class” sent a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, extolling John Brennan who has been nominated as CIA head. As this article delineates, “You’ll be amazed at what they left out.”
❖ Garry Wills on “Dumb America”: The South’s response to its Civil War loss “improved its literature, but impoverished other things.” Such as, today’s South’s willindness “to cut off its own nose to show contempt for the government”, “The South has decided to be defeated and dumb.” More.
❖ VA Republicans have pushed a bill through a committee that “would allocate the state’s electoral votes based on who wins each congressional district”, not on who wins the state. “FairVote executive director Rob Richie described the Virginia plan as ‘an incredibly unfair and indefensible proposal’”. (Following Richie’s testimony, PA Republicans backed down on a similar plan.)
❖ Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), a member of the NRA, is working with them as well as Senate colleagues in developing a bill for “implementing universal background checks”.
❖ Tom Tomorrow: “N.R.A. Debate Tips“.
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
❖ Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union, on uninsured children: 9 million+ “children face the lions of poverty, addiction and neglect’ daily.
❖ Only a day after he said LA’s Medicaid hospice benefit would be axed February 1st, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has reversed course. State senators were quite opposed to the cut.
❖ That MA pharmacy responsible for “a nationwide meningitis outbreak paid out more than $70 million to its owners and their other companies in the last six years.”
Women & Children
❖ “More than 40% of reviewed cases of sexual assault reported to the police by [Washington, DC's] central hospital . . . ‘appear never to have been investigated’ or even documented by the [Metropolitan Police Department].” Video.
❖ Catholic Health Initiatives, a “faith-based system” though not owned by the Church itself, is arguing fetuses aren’t people–in court.
❖ “A Republican lawmaker in New Mexico introduced a bill on Wednesday [requiring] victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term in order to use the fetus as evidence for a sexual assault trial.” End the pregnancy beforehand and get slapped with a 3rd degree felony for “tampering with evidence.” Don’t miss the “UPDATE”.
❖ Two bills before the AZ state legislature, one requiting all “public high school students . . . to recite an oath supporting the U.S. Constitution to be able to graduate” and the other requiring all 1-12 grade students to say the Pledge of Allegiance each day. (How come those kindergarteners get off so easy?)
❖ “The courageous action taken by teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School has won growing support and admiration, not only from the city’s teachers, parents and students, but from teachers nationwide.” This Battle in Seattle is over the “disastrous testing-madness policies . . . under No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top.”
Working for A Living
❖ There’s a Wal-Mart warehouse in Mira Loma, CA that workers struck last September over working conditions. Last week, CalOSHA fined the warehouse operator and a staffing agency $60,000 “for putting wokers in danger” at the warehouse.
❖ Unionists “gathered over the weekend at the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer conference in Chicago, [knowing] that if universal health care is ever to be achieved in the US, labor must play a key role in pushing for it”. See Karen Lewis’ presentation at “Health, Homelessness & Hunger”, above.
❖ “‘Gideon’s Army’ follows a group of young public defenders in the Deep South who contend with low pay, long hours and staggering caseloads to represent the poor.” Video.
❖ ”The Long Slog to Legalizing Marijuana in the U.S. Is Just Beginning”.
❖ George Soros has joined Guatemalan President Perez Molina’s effort to shift discussion to “a regulatory approach to drugs, rather than the extremes of a full-blown war on drugs or a policy of liberalisation.” Soros noted at Davos that “Drug policy has endangered political stability and security in many countries [and that] incarceration is hugely expensive”.
Planet Earth News
❖ “Massive melting of Andes glaciers: Glaciers in the tropical Andes have shrunk by 30-50% since the 1970s”. Millions depend on those glaciers for water.
❖ “After years of gain”, deforestation is back in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Video.
❖ Maine’s Public Utility Commission ok’d Norway’s Statoil “to build a $120 million deepwater wind turbine demonstration project in the Gulf of Maine.”
❖ Despite what we read about the “Coal Renaissance” in Europe, “The truth is coal’s future in the EU is bleak. Here’s what’s happening.”
❖ Who knew? “Dung Beetles Navigate Via the Milky Way, An Animal-Kingdom First”
❖ Remember those faked moon landings?