Howdy!

International Developments

❖ “A NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan late Tuesday killed 10 civilians, including . . . five women and four children”.

Syria’s foreign ministry spokesman has defected.

❖  ”From India to Ireland to Egypt, women are on the streets, on the airwaves, on the internet, getting organised and getting angry.”  Anoushka Shankar, Ravi Shankar’s daughter, was sexually molested during childhood by a family friend.  She has told about it as part of the One Billion Rising movement.  In South Africa, where 56,272 rapes were reported in 2010-2011, the movement is centered around the recent gang-rape, murder and mutilation of a 17-year-old girl.

International Finance

❖ “EU and US free-trade talks launched”, with President Obama having said “everything is on the table.”

❖ “$11 million annual salary is ‘modest‘, says bailed-out bankster Chairman” of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Money Matters USA

President Obama’s “Grand Bargain” (Medicare and Social Security cuts) is a “Great Betrayal”, according to Bill Black.  Why are we even considering feeding the Austerity monster?  Feeding the private sector rather than public programs?  Why did he go after the regulators rather than the banksters?  More.

❖ At last year’s State of the Union, President Obama announced the Residential Mortgage-Back Securities working group which, under Eric Schneiderman, was going to “investigate and prosecute fraudulent Wall Street activity”.  There never was such a thing, but the announcement was very effective because progressive groups, who got played,  backed right off.  David Dayen explains.

❖ “The Top 1% Got 121% of Income Gains Since 2009″, while the bottom 99% didn’t break even.

Positive signs about the US Postal Service reform efforts in the Congress:  Both Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) Darrell Issa (R-CA) think agreement can be reached in March.

❖ There’s a report coming out April 4th that  ”has struck fear into the lobbyists and operatives who have turned the inside scoop on bills and regulations into a multimillion-dollar industry.”  If it’s that bad, it must be a very fine report indeed.

 The whereabouts of  ”more than $200 million in insurance payments meant for victims of Superstorm Sandy”?  Sitting in banks, primarily Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank and JP Morgan Chase.

❖ They can’t stand it when something as bright and shiny as a railroad belongs to The People.  Thus, Rep. John Mica (R-FL) has legislation that would “open Amtrak routes in its profitable northeast corridor up to private sector rail companies.”  Build it and they will come–to grab it for themselves.

❖  Post-election polling last year showed that 70% of voters are for raising the minimum wage.  Many politicians are not.  Why not?  House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH): “when you raise the price of employment  . . . You get less of it.”

One worker was killed and another injured at a steel mill in Norfolk, NE. NE’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the steel mill owner  for hazardous work conditions and imposed a fine of $14,000.

❖ President Obama has consistently asked for $50bn more in infrastructure funding, which Congress has refused.  According to the American Society of Engineers, failure to improve infrastructure “will cost the country almost $1 trillion a year”

Politics USA

❖ Heh heh.  37% of LA voters approve of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s job performance–a reversal of survey results in 2010.  Even Republicans don’t think so much of him any more.

House Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX),  who invited Ted Nugent to the State of the Union, had to remove his “10-foot-long billboard ‘Obama Failometer’‘” from a House Office Building hallway. The Failometer shows how many jobs Congress’ GOP has denied by refusing to approve any of Obama’s jobs bills–and pins the blame on Obama.

70% of Americans surveyed said they support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.  When Obama’s name was associated with the idea, however, support dropped to 59%.

❖ On his Facebook page, KS House Democratic Leader Paul Davis, has released “a new prayer list” from Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s “spiritual leader” which calls for prayer targeted to “dark spiritual areas”–all of which are heavily Democratic.

NV Assemblymember Steven Brooks (D) threatened the Assembly Democratic Speaker and then threatened his wife.  He’s been kicked out of the Democratic caucus and will likely be barred from the legislature soon.

Gun Corner

❖  Do not leave home without it:  A timely guide for determining whether you’re dealing with a gun nut or a mass shooter.

❖ A “guns in trunks” bill sailed through the TN Senate and will be considered by the House.

❖ “Gun Homicides Increased 25 Percent After Missouri Repealed Background Check Law”.

Democrats in the CO state House have passed “bold new gun control measures”.

Education Directions

FL fast-track:  12,000 students were sent directly from school to jail in 2012.  FL’s Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary: “The vast majority of children being arrested are not committing criminal acts”.  The Southern Poverty Law Center attorney:  “We criminalize them for being kids”.

❖ TN’s taxpayer-funded, for-profit, Republican-approved on-line virtual school, Tennessee Virtual Academy,  is so bad that only 16.4% of middle school students met “proficient or advanced test marks in math” (39.3%  in reading/language arts).  An email has surfaced which “suggests that teachers erase . . . bad grades“.  A  legislative committee has killed a bill to close the school.

Heads Up!

CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, is back before Congress.  It “allows companies to share sensitive and personal American internet data with the government, including the National Security Agency and other military agencies”.  The ACLU is opposed.

❖ Those Office of Legal Counsel memos pertaining to targeted killing by drone?  There are actually 11 all total;  the Senate Intelligence Committee has only four.  What’s in the other seven?

Latin America

❖ “Chile’s Mapuche Indians clash with police in Collipulli”.  One  Mapuche, “has been on hunger strike for seven weeks while in prison awaiting trial . . . [for] robbery, arson and attempted murder” which he denies.  An on-going struggle for the land, between the poverty-ridden Mapuche and non-indigenous people.

Mixed Bag

No comment.

❖ “Ancient languages reconstructed by computer program”.

Break Time

Respect yourself