Have a great weekend everyone!  See you back here Sunday evening.

International Developments

Headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood party in Ismailiya, Egypt was torched today.  A similar attempt was made in a Cairo district. Update: 5 people killed in the city of Suez; clashes with police “across the country”.

❖ “Mali crisis:  “[Malian and French] Troops ‘take northern town of Hombori”.  The Malian government has said the “war will be over in days”, as government troops move toward Gao.

❖ The UN will enter the fray over those islands China and Japan are all up in arms about.  But later this year.

International Finance

UK Chancellor Osborne is under attack from several sides over “Austerity” following gloomy fiscal reports–the Labour Party, organized labor, and Goldman Sachs (!).  (Keep scrolling to hit all the stories.)

Money Matters USA

Robert Reich on “Americans aren’t living beyond their means: It’s just a myth propagated by groups like ‘Fix the Debt’ to keep the country’s wealth in the hands of the few”.

Jeb Bush has become  a voice of moderation, proposing “comprehensive immigration reform” to achieve “a fair and workable system of legal immigration” (because business needs it).  Coincidence?  “President Barack Obama will launch a campaign next week aimed at overhauling the nation’s flawed immigration system”.

❖ “More than $114 billion was withdrawn from the nation’s biggest banks in the first full week of January, and  industry analysts are struggling to understand why.”  Is TAG the culprit or “wacky” records at the Federal Reserve?  Wait . . . wacky?

❖ Of the 100 top corporate donors to political campaigns in 2012, ten had criminal convictions between 1989-2000, and nine “gave far more to Republican political campaigns than to Democratic ones.”

3D printing can have major impact on the economy. For example, stores could print missing or broken parts for home appliances, equipment, etc., thus eliminating large-scale manufacture, shipping, warehousing, and retail display of those same parts.  Additive manufacturing, printing out much more complicated items, would have even greater impact.

Politics USA

❖  Bill Moyers traces the revolving door conveyance and corporate-congressional hijinks that resulted in giant pharmaceutical company Amgen getting a specially made-to-fit $500m loophole in the “fiscal cliff” legislation.  Senators McConnell (R-KY), Hatch (R-UT) and Baucus (D-MT) were involved.  Video.  More here.

❖  ”Obama likely to name Wal-Mart Foundation head as budget director”.   Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who served in the Clinton administration in the Office of Management and Budget, and has many interesting connections.

❖ Now he tells us:  “I’m not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).   How the whole thing fell apart.

❖  Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) won’t be running for re-election in 2014.

Both US House member Ed Markey (D-MA) and MA state house member Stephen Lynch (D) will be running for John Kerry’s senate seat.

❖ A US Court of Appeals has ruled President Obama’s recess appointments of two people to the National Labor Relations Board are unconstitutional since “the Senate was . . . in ‘pro-forma’ session” at the time.

❖ And they’re off:  “The GOP Plan to Take the Electoral-Vote-Rigging Scheme National”.

One VA senate Republican, Ralph Smith, is opposed to efforts to “apportion electoral votes in the state by Congressional district”, though he’d agree if all the other states decide to do the same.  BTW, the proposed legislation in VA may be subject to provisions of the US Voting Rights Act, which could make it illegal anyway.

❖  Two Republican members of the MS state house are pushing a Mississippi Balance of Powers Act with the ultimate goal of “neutralizing . . . any and all existing federal statutes, mandates and executive orders” determined by a committee to be outside Article 1 of the US Constitution.

IA state senate Republicans are going to “introduce legislation requiring that Iowans present photo identification in order to vote.”

An estimated 201,000 FL voters “likely gave up in frustration on Nov. 6″ and went home.  A few counties in Central FL were most affected.

Gun Corner

❖ VA again, with a “Gangbanger Bill of Rights” which would “prevent any state or local government entity from providing information about gun crimes based on any federal law enacted after 2012.”  The bill has cleared one committee.

❖ ‘Winger in Jefferson County, CO was raided by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  He had built improvised explosive devices which he intended to trade for cocaine, and he had a cache of “military-style assault weapons”, etc.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ It’s high time somebody re-visited the Cuban health care system, and so they have as reported in the staid New England Journal of Medicine:  “A Different Model–Medical Care in Cuba”.

❖  They get it:  “Majority of Americans Think Implementing Obamacare Should Be A ‘Top Priority‘ In Their State”

OH Republican Gov. John Kasich  is under pressure from a united front of “religious congregations, community groups and major health care providers” to sign-on for expanding Medicaid in his state through the Affordable Care Act.

❖ A MA bankruptcy court judge “has frozen the assets of the owners” of the New England Compounding Center whose products seemingly caused the meningitis outbreak last fall.

Women & Children

In TN,  ”it is possible for a minor [who is a] sex crime victim to also be an accomplice in the crime”, depending on whether the victim “voluntarily consented to the sexual activity.”  A case involving the TN law is now before the Supreme Court: a 42 year-old man vs a 14 year-old girl.  This also involves the old “evidence of force” issue.

According to Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, eliminating the ban on women serving in combat will “more likely . . . lead people to treat each other equally” and reduce sexual assault of female soldiers.

IL Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill yesterday which “extends state-mandated sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention efforts to elementary and middle schools.”  Although unfunded, the action is a start, the result of the work of Erin Merryn who was a child victim of sexual abuse.

Morocco is planning to change its penal code so that rape victims are not forced to marry the rapist.

Heads Up!

❖  John Kiriakou, former CIA officer and whistleblower, was sentenced to 2 years in prison today by US district Judge Leonie Brinkema who “said she would have given Kiriakou much more time if she could.”

Planet Earth News

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in a WaPo op-ed: “If There Is No Action Soon, The Future Will Become Bleak”.  So far, the World Bank’s “inconsistency on climate change has been widely noted”.

Nine Senate Democrats who signed the letter urging President Obama to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline:  Baucus (D-MT), Begich (D-AK), Donnelly (D-IN),  Heitkamp (D-ND), Landrieu (D-LA), Manchin (D-WV), Pryor (D-AR), Warner (D-VA), Hagan (D-NC).  Letter here.

❖ The big funders of climate change critics?  The Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, both in Alexandria, VA, are ‘Indirectly supported by the American billionaire Charles Koch . . . through a third-party organisation, . . . the Knowledge and Progress Fund.”  Slow burn:  “The Donors Trust is a ‘donor advised fund,’ meaning . . . [the donors] receive generous tax relief”.

Break Time

A big blast-off into the weekend!