Good evening, all.
❖ Gen. Hassan Shateri, ”senior commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps was assassinated” Tuesday, apparently in Syria and allegedly by “Zionist agents”. He was key to “safeguarding” Iran’s “interests” in various countries, including “Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan”.
❖ Nuclear talks between the UN and Iran have failed.
❖ New US ally Burma used white phosphorous “to disperse protesters at a controversial copper mine . . . jointly owned by a Chinese company and the Burmese military” (!).
❖ Greece’s recession is “getting deeper and deeper”, as Austerity demands more-more-more. Unemployed almost 30%, wages being slashed People are despondent, despairing. Perfect environment for the extreme Right.
❖ One hedge fund CEO says Greece likely to exit the euro by summer.
❖ Royal Bank of Scotland “is too big to prosecute, . . . too big to run honestly, . . . creates enormous distortions, . . . [and has caused] catastrophic harm to the British people.”
❖ Is industrial production in the Eurozone contracting or “showing early signs of recovery”? Update: “Eurozone economy falls short of forecasts, a “0.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter drop, deepening the bloc’s recession” and causing the euro to fall 1% against the dollar.
❖ Japan’s economy contracted for three straight quarters, ending December, 2012.
❖ The Swiss are so upset about “Fat-Cat Pay” that the whole country will vote March 3rd on having compensation for CEOs set by shareholders. They’re being warned that such a move will “drive out tax-paying companies”.
❖ Rodrigo Rato, fifth on a list of “Worst CEOs”, was chair of Spain’s Bankia–and managing director of the IMF. In 2011, Bankia reported a profit of €309bn, but after Rato resigned that was changed to a loss of €3bn.
Money Matters USA
❖ Feeding the Austerity monster: Republicans’ “Plan to Flush Your State’s Economy Down the Toilet”, unfolding in KS, NC, IN, LA, NE, OH, OK, etc.
❖ Although foreclosures initiated by banks have been decreasing, CA’s Homeowners Bill of Rights, effective January 1st, “caused a 39.5 percent decrease in filings from December to January”.
❖ They are showing signs of meeting or exceeding the 1997 record: the rich who’d rather denounce their US citizenship than pay US taxes.
❖ “The House Wednesday . . . overwhelmingly passed a bill to allow places of worship to receive federal aid to repair their buildings damaged during Hurricane Sandy.” (You can vote for a new pope–including a write-in–at the link.)
❖ Democrat or Republican: It’s (almost) all in your head.
❖ Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is postponing a vote on confirming John Brennan as CIA director. Committee members want “more information [from the White House] on its armed drone program” and the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya last year.
❖ Reps. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Mark Takano (D-CA), and 10 other progressive House members, have written a letter informing President Obama “that they will not back anything that cuts entitlement benefits.”
❖ Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is warning his colleagues to “avoid the immigration trap” in trying to attract Hispanics.
❖ That 2011 WI Supreme Court uproar–with one Justice (Prosser) supposedly placing his hands around the neck of a female Justice (Bradley)–is back. Justice Bradley has ”offered details about . . . ‘a history of abusive behavior in our workplace that has escalated . . . to physical contact.’” Click through to her document.
❖ PA’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) has rejected Gov. Tom Corbett (R) administration’s “contract with a British firm to manage the $3.5 billion” state lottery, since it “contravenes the Pennsylvania constitution” and “usurps the power of the Gaming Control Board”.
❖ Dark money group Americans for Responsible Leadership not only ran afoul of CA’s Fair Political Practices Commission, but also rankled a woman in CO who “claims she received robocalls from the group in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.”
❖ Unbelievable1: “FreedomWorks Made Video of Fake Giant Panda Having Sex With Fake Hillary Clinton”. Two female interns supposedly were “recruited” to, ahem, perform.
❖ Unbelievable2: “Fox [teevee] Mocks 102-Year-Old’s Long Wait To Vote”.
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
❖ VA Republican Gov Bob McDonnell “has ordered state agencies to cap the hours of part-time and hourly employees to 29 hours . . . [to] avoid providing “health insurance coverage to those employees” under the Affordable Care Act.
❖ WI Republican Gov. Scott Walker says his state won’t participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Working for A Living
❖ Janitors and security officers in MN’s 6000-member SEIU Local 26 have authorized calling a strike “at any time”.
❖ The “Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement threatens thousands of Minnesota jobs, . . . [per] the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition.”
❖ OSHA “has cited the Bacardi Bottling Corp. with 12 alleged safety violations following the death of a 21-year old temporary worker who was killed on his first day on the job.” According to OSHA, “A workers’ first day at work shouldn’t be his last day on earth.”
Planet Earth News
❖ New Duke University poll results: 50% of Americans are “convinced” of climate change and 34% “believe it ‘is probably changing.’”
❖ “Conservative billionaires” funneled about $120m “to more than 100″ climate change denial groups in 2002-2010 though two outfits: Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund both at the same address in VA.
❖ Well, gol-durned. The TX Legislature is getting very interested in all the TX water being used in fracking operations.
❖ At least “84,000 gallons” of hydraulic fracking wastewater spilled from a broken well-head in a field about 4 miles north of Windsor”, CO.
❖ OH’s Hardrock Excavating’s CEO “faces up to three years in prison, a $250,000 fine” for 20,000+ gallons of wastewater pumped into a sewer and on to “the Mahoning River watershed”. Two more companies involved have had their permits revoked.
❖ “Hexavalent chromium [think Erin Brockovich] . . . still is not subject to tough federal drinking-water standards, due to the Environmental Protection Agency . . . deferring to industry opposition.”