❖ Finally, “a first delivery of winter emergency relief” by the UN has reached some of the 45,000 displaced people “living in ‘appalling’ conditions” in northern Syria. 15,000 blankets, 3,000 tents.
❖ Protestors and police are battling in front of President Mohammed Morsi’s palace in Cairo–”rocks and petrol bombs” against “tear gas and water cannon”. Protests also at Port Said.
❖ What’s the role of the Egyptian military in the current crisis?
❖ “Egypt: The Rule of the Brotherhood”: An observer recounts the transformation of the Mohammed Morsi government, from his election forward to the upsurge today.
❖ “The White House has warned Syria against transferring weapons to Hezbollah in neighbouring Lebanon.” This warning followed the Israeli bombing a few days ago of a “military research centre” (per Syria) or trucks “carrying weapons bound for Lebanon” (per the US).
❖ “As Mali’s Islamists retreat, Tuareg civilians fear vengeful army’s reprisals: Amnesty International claims Malian soldiers have executed dozens of civilians after French-led forces drove out rebels”.
❖ “Al-Qaeda affiliate in North Africa said to have sights on other Western targets”.
❖ Could get interesting. “A former trader at BP has filed a lawsuit for breach of contract in which he alleges the British company’s Houston-based unit, BP Energy CO, is attempting to manipulate the U.S. natural gas liquids market.”
Money Matters USA
❖ Foreclosures in the US declined by 19.5% in December, and “the inventory of foreclosed properties is almost 20% smaller than a year ago”.
❖ After all the harm done, Lender Processing Services will pay $127million–to 46 state attorneys general, so imagine how far that’ll go–as settlement for its role in the mortgage crisis.
❖ 23-year-old Brazilian national has taken possession of a $2.5 million mansion in Boca Raton, FL, citing an obscure real estate law. Police won’t evict him. Bank of America is scrambling.
❖ “U.S. sues to stop beer deal to unite Bud and Corona”. Anheuser-Busch wants to buy half of what it already doesn’t own of Grupo Modelo of Mexico. The cost, $20.1 billion “could mean higher U.S. beer prices.”
❖ “Fears of the U.S. economy falling into another recession eased Friday as several reports, including the latest jobs data and readings on manufacturing, construction spending and consumer confidence, indicated the recovery was continuing.”
❖ ”Last year, more active-duty soldiers killed themselves than died in combat. And after a decade of deployments in war zones, the Pentagon is bracing for things to get much worse.”
❖ Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) says they have the votes to pass the Violence Against Women Act, perhaps early next week.
❖ Good one: “Americans shocked to learn that there isn’t actually a Social Security crisis: A survey shows that deficit fear-mongering works, but it’s overcome by simple counter-arguments”.
❖ Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) will not be among the candidates running for John Kerry’s vacant Senate seat.
❖ Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) transferred $40,000 in campaign funds to his legal defense fund December 31, 2012, for a total of $200,000.
❖ Respect Arizona, a political group, has filed paperwork with the state thus beginning its Recall Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff.
❖ Town of Paragould in AR has quite a plan–SWAT teams patrolling the streets, stopping everrrrrrrybody out walking and checking their ID. The police chief said he hadn’t consulted a lawyer about the plan.
❖ The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post were hacked in 2012–by “the Chinese”.
❖ The AZ Citizens Defense League “is seeking to ban the destruction of guns that people turn in voluntarily to the police”.
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
❖ “Comparing the US and Venezuela” on poverty measures, steps taken (or not) to eradicate poverty, and outcomes.
❖ US Dept of Health & Human Services’ Secretary Kathleen Sibelius announced that churches and other religious groups objecting would be exempt from contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. “Female employees of such organizations would receive contraceptive coverage through separate individual health insurance policies, without having to pay premiums or co-payments.” No fight over vasectomy coverage?
Women & Children
❖ Nice Children’s Garden in Camden, NJ has been ordered by the state Dept of Treasury to vacate within two months. Children’s Garden has an “on- and off-site nutrition and environmental, science and math programs. . . . a butterfly house, dinosaur garden, and carousel.” NJ wants to turn it into a parking lot.
❖ The US Dept of Agriculture has released proposed regs of what snack foods can be sold in the nation’s schools. Limits are placed on “sodium, total sugar and calories from fat”.
❖ Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez has “stripped his predecessor [Cardinal Roger Mahony, now retired] of all church duties and released files on more than 100 clerics, as required under a 2007 lawsuit deal over alleged sex abuse.” The files are here.
❖ “17 pct of male Marines surveyed likely to leave Corps if women get combat posts.”
❖ MS’ last abortion clinic nears closure.
❖ New York’s attempts at reasonable teacher evaluation have been considerably impeded by none other than hizzoner Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The NY experience underscores the state of the nation’s response to critical education issues.
❖ March and rally in Washington, DC, demanding nationwide moratorium on school closures and subsequent emergence of charter schools which disproportionately affect minority communities, destabilizing them.
Working for A Living
❖ 85 port drivers at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach have written American Logistics International, informing them of intent to join the Teamsters. This is the second group of port workers at LA/Long Beach to join with the Teamsters in the past couple of months.
❖ Chrysler has experienced a “major turnaround” and intends to share with its workers, sending each a $2,250 check.
Planet Earth News
❖ BP pled guilty to manslaughter in the deaths of 11 Deepwater Horizon rig workers; must pay $4billion in penalties. Civil claims are still outstanding.
❖ More than 250,000 gallons of oil and water have been removed from that leaking barge on the Mississippi.
❖ Japanese whalers have been ordered out of Australian waters.
❖ “Study: Energy Industry Water Use Set To Double by 2035“. That’s freshwater that is not used and returned, but consumed, period.
❖ “US carbon emissions fall to lowest levels since 1994″.
❖ In addition to damage done by their very operations, “Mining companies undermine local democracy in western Colombia” by giving money to local mayors.
❖ The Argentine government’s freeze on behalf of Ecuador of $19billion in Chevron assets is ruled legal. The $19billion is for environmental damage done in Ecuador by Texaco (since acquired by Chevron) from 1964-1990.
❖ Salvadorans are to receive 50%+ discounts on certain high-volume-sales drugs such as anti-cholesterol, anti-hypertensive and diabetes meds.
❖ RIP Ed Koch, New York City Mayor from 1978-89.
❖ “3D printed moon building designs”, using material on the Moon’s surface. No, really.
❖ “A Photo Of Hillary Clinton In Every Country She’s Visited”. You’ll be stunned to note that Venezuela isn’t among them.
❖ Once upon a time there was Joy of Cooking