Good evening, all.
❖ Last February in Egypt there was a riot in Port Said, in which 74 people were killed, following a football game. At the conclusion of last week’s trial of those implicated in the riot, 21 were condemned to death, leading to a new riot leaving “at least” 30 dead. Update: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has declared a state of emergency in Port Said, Suez and Ismalia.
❖ Egypt’s Tahrir Square has once again been the site of rape–at least 25 women were victims recently, “including one who was raped with a bladed weapon.”
❖ Lebanese security officials say Sunni militants from Lebanon are going to Syria “in greater numbers” to fight alongside Islamic extremists against the Syrian government. Speaking at Davos, King Abdullah of Jordan “warned of Al Qaeda’s presence in Syria”. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev thinks Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s “chances of retaining power in Syria are shrinking.”
❖ Less than 1.5% of Syria is forest, and now that is imperiled by Syrians desperate for fuel for heating and cooking.
❖ “Iraq Parliament Votes to Keep Maliki From Seeking New Term”
❖ A peaceful rally in Baku, Azerbaijan protesting police brutality was broken up by police who brutally beat and jailed protestors.
❖ Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconia “sparked outrage” today by praising Mussolino.
❖ Is the US preparing for military action in Bolivia?
❖ Predictions from the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. (George Soros’ is particularly disturbing.)
❖ Bill Black on “Why the World Economic Forum and Goldman Sachs Are Capitalism’s Worst Enemies”
❖ Russia, the US, and now China? Cheered on by the U.S. and “attracted by the country’s vast mineral resources . . . China could prove the ultimate winner in Afghanistan“. Security is “the key challenge”.
Money Matters USA
❖ President Barack Obama promised yesterday to “watch the US financial industry to prevent what he called ‘irresponsible behavior’”. Verily, the banksters are quaking in fear.
❖ “U.S. Income Inequality Worse Than Many Latin American Countries”. The US “inequality measure” of 16.0 is at mid-point between Honduras at 25.5 (the worst) and Uruguay at 8.0.
❖ Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has decided to retire in 2014.
❖ They’re starting to line up behind Jeb Bush’s recent article on immigration. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is confidant that Republicans will “get on board with a comprehensive immigration bill” since they are “losing [the Hispanic vote] dramatically”.
❖ Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) says his party must: “show our ideas are better at fighting poverty, . . . better at solving health care, . . . better at solving the problems that people are experiencing in their daily lives.” He’s concerned about dependency culture. Tell that to the 22% of children in this country today who are in poverty.
❖ VA’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) is opposed to his fellow Republicans’ plans to “apportion electoral votes by congressional district” while WI Gov. Scott Walker (R) thinks it’s an “interesting idea”.
❖ “A brand new conservative group calling itself Americans for a Strong Defense and financed by anonymous donors is running advertisements urging Democratic senators . . . to vote against Chuck Hagel . . . [as] secretary of defense”. There’s another new, anonymously funded, anti-LGTB group called Use Your Mandate.
❖ “Thousands rally in Washington [DC] for gun control”, including about 100 Newtown, CT residents.
❖ “For The Sixth Time In One Week, Man Shot At Gun Show“. (Not the same man, btw.)
❖ Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. made a radio commercial encouraging people to arm themselves since dialing 911 “is no longer your best option.” “Milwaukee leadership” was not pleased.
❖ The Topeka (KS) School District is seeking its board’s permission to stock up on semi-automatic rifles for its school police.
❖ “Around World, Gun Rules, and Results, Vary Wildly”
❖ Interview with President Obama, much of it about gun control.
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
❖ “Bad pharma: Drug research riddled with half truths, omissions, lies: Industry-funded trials are too common, can’t be trusted–and bring pills to market that likely don’t work.” 85% of 500+ trials that were industry-funded had positive outcomes, compared to 50% of government-funded ones–even though negative results from trials are frequently suppressed. Such issues are very relevant to today’s gun control debate.
❖ Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) recently held the first hearing since 2007 on mental health by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Representatives from government (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), studies from national organizations, etc., are being taken into account.
❖ The US Drug Enforcement Agency has its hands on OR’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database–without a warrant as required by OR law. The ACLU is joining the case.
❖ Boycotting the MAP test, begun at Garfield High, is sweeping across Seattle.
❖ TN state representative, Stacey Campfield (R) “introduced a bill this week seeking to make welfare benefits contingent upon the grades of a would-be recipient’s children.” He calls it “breaking the cycle of poverty”.
❖ Following the death of Aaron Swartz, Anonymous “claimed to have brought down ussc.gov, website of the United States Sentencing Commission”. It also claims to have information about US Supreme Court Justices.”
❖ New York Police Dept Commission Ray Kelly announced they will be “using scanner technology that can see through a person’s clothes within the year”.
Planet Earth News
❖ So-called “Ag-Gag” laws have been introduced in NH, WY and NE; MO, IA and UT have already passed them. It’s against Ag-Gag laws to investigate “animal cruelty, food safety or environment violations on the corporate-controlled farms.” ALEC is very involved.
❖ Low snowfall in the Rockies “Raises Concerns About Drought Recovery”.
❖ “Protesters in Maine rally against tar sands oil”. Hundreds in Portland in “the largest protest yet against the possibility of so-called tar sands oil being piped in from Montreal.”
❖ According to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s 2013 report, “renewables have gone mainstream and are being supported by a ‘virtuous circle’ of increasing deployment, fast learning rates and significant, often rapid, declines in costs.”
❖ Surprise, surprise! “Big cities’ heat can change temperatures a continent away”.
❖ Cicero Guedes, “A leader of the landless movement in Brazil . . . has been killed in Rio de Janeiro state” where threats against activists are intensifying.
❖ “Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos . . . denied accusations that the government is providing free housing to the poor as a cynical vote-buying tactic”.
❖ Did Mexico’s newly-elected president, Enrique Pena Nieto, get votes with “about $5.2 million through electronic cash cards during last year’s presidential campaign”? The Federal Electoral Institute looked at the situation and decided there was insufficient evidence.
❖ 232 people perished in a nightclub fire in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria.
❖ Wearing of high heels in Europe began among male aristocrats. Great portrait of Louis XIV in his heels, showing quite a bit of (stockinged) leg.