Good Evening!

International Developments

❖  Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, Iran’s supreme leader,  not interested in talks with the US on Iran’s nuclear program.

❖  “Tunisia faces general strike after Belaid assassination sparks crisis: Protests erupt, prompting fears . . . [of] political polarisation it has managed to avoid since Ben Ali overthrow.”

❖  As if the present isn’t bad enough: “The Future of Drone Warfare is Scary”.

Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and Counterterrorism,  is “giving his qualified backing to John Brennan” for US CIA Director.  Interesting that as Brennan is facing Senate questioning, “Emmerson is negotiating access with the U.S. government to its targeted-killing efforts”.

❖ Retiring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress “he supports arming Syrian rebels”– per former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former CIA Director David Petraeus’ plan that the White House rejected.

International Finance

At the Eurozone budget summit, France and Italy want to “maintain spending but target it more at investment likely to create jobs [!]“, while “the UK, Germany and other northern European nations want to lower EU spending to mirror the cuts [and misery] being made” by other countries.

❖ How come  ”output in Germany “grew at the fastest rate for just over a year- and-a-half” despite “ongoing downturns in France, Italy and Spain”?   And something’s not right in the Netherlands, either.

❖ After 18 months of negotiating with the European Central Bank, Ireland can “swap 28 billion euros . . . that were used to bail out Anglo Irish bank in 2009 for long-term government debt.”  This swap is supposed to benefit Irish people suffering from Austerity.

Money Matters USA

Neil Barofsky, former Inspector-General of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) after surveying Timothy Geithner’s legacy while at Treasury: “The US faces a two-tiered system of justice that . . . all but assures more excessive risk-taking, more crime and more crises.”

More on the US Postal Service slayers, and a great cartoon, by David Horsey.

❖ In addition to DDay’s suggestion for the US Postal Service to provide simple banking, the LA Times agrees with another: put it in charge of implementing “universal access to high-speed Internet service.”

JPMorgan Chase did their best to make those “serious flaws with thousands of home loans” appear “healthier” according to information from e-mails and employee interviews. Much more.

Jobless claims last week dropped to 366,000–per the initial count.

❖ Finally, it’s becoming more obvious and recognized:  ”Austerity threat to everyday American life“.

❖ “Will Boeing’s 787 Battery Issues Ground Electric Vehicles, Too?

Politics USA

Interesting analysis of Republican “fracture lines” emerging during the Chuck Hagel Pentagon nomination process–old Neocon hawks vs disaffected hawks and, particularly, the rise of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

❖ During his confirmation hearing for CIA Director today, John Brennan did say that waterboarding “is something that should have been banned and it should never have taken place in my view.”

❖ 2 birds with one GOP stone:  “GOP offers plan to avoid sequestration by a 10 percent reduction in federal work force”.

❖ Oh, noooos:  KKKKarl’s American Crossroads is under attack by some conservatives because its spokesperson, Jonahan Collegio, called “conservative commentator Brent Bozell” a “hater”.

❖ What’s up with this?  “Obama To Attend Religious Event Sponsored By Group Tied to Uganda ‘Kill The Gays’ Bill”.

Wild times in Los Angeles.

Gun Corner

❖ Few of them have noticed, but the GOP’s velcro bond with the NRA is driving away female voters.

❖ Back on center stage:  Defense Distributed of Austin, TX is proceeding with 3D printed firearms and components, having printed and fired a “high-capacity . . . automatic rifle (AR) magazine” they’ve named Cuomo, “after New York State’s gun-control supporting governor Andrew Cuomo”.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) contacted “federal health-care officials regarding a Medicare overbilling investigation” of one of his friends and donors, a FL optometrist who “overcharged Medicare for nearly $9 million”.  So why does the conservative media play it as a scandal “about Dominican prostitutes.”

Women & Children

❖  Wild-eyed Misogynist sightings.   In MI, with a “Bill Mandating Tansvaginal Ultrasound Before An Abortion.” Update:  Both the MI governor and House speaker have nixed the bill.  In TN, a bill requiring a “fetal transabdominal ultrasound”.   In IA with a bill to define ‘person’ as “an individual human being, without regard to age of development, from the moment of conception” and defines abortion as murder.

❖  Today the “New Mexico Medical Board … exonerated an Albuquerque doctor of gross negligence for her handling of a late-term abortion in a case that raised questions about whether politics trumped patient privacy.”

❖ List of the 18 companies fighting  contraceptive coverage–for women, anyway–in the Affordable Care Act.  Interesting that 16 of them are headquartered in the mid-West.

Working for A Living

❖ “A Labor Union Hopes Medical Marijuana Will Cure Its Ills”.  That’s the United Food and Commercial Workers union which “has already organized three medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles and has pending deals with 49 more.”

Heads Up!

❖ Thought-provoking article on “The American Lockdown State:  Post-Legal Drones, the Bin Laden Tax, and Other Wonders of Our American World”.

Glenzilla:  “US media yet again conceals newsworthy government secrets: The collective self-censorship over a US drone based in Saudi Arabia is but the latest act of government-subservient ‘journalism’.”

Planet Earth News

❖ Go nurses!  They’re opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline for public health reasons–tar sands production makes people sick and endangers our children’s future.

❖ In PA, the Conservation Districts’ funding from the state’s general fund is headed for the ax, to be replaced by Marcellus Shale impact fees.  What’s a county to do that has no drilling in progress?  Why the proposed shift in funding anyway?

❖ According to the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman, “The US is moving away from an electricity generation system based on large, centralised power stations to a distributed generation or decentralised energy model.”

❖ From Warrior Princess to Greenpeace warrior:  ”Lucy Lawless has been arrested, tried, sentenced–and still claims victory.”

Break Time

Mainlining.