Good evening, all.
❖ “A massive car bomb explosion in the Syrian capital, Damascus, has killed at least 53 people and injured another 200, reports say.” “The victims were mostly pedestrians, schoolchildren and motorists.”
❖ “Syrian rebels had started to attack Lebanon’s Hezbollah . . . less than a day after the [Free Syrian Army] chief of staff issued a 48-hour ultimatum warning the militant group to stop shelling territory held by the insurgents.”
❖ “Tunisian Democracy Challenged as Prime Minister Resigns“. Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali stepped down once he lost support of his religious right Ennahda Party. In other words, the political process held.
❖ No one’s claimed responsibility yet, but 12 people were killed by bombing in Hyderabad in southern India, a site of considerable tension between Muslims and Hindus.
❖ The Spanish group “Stop Desahucios” (Stop Evictions) led some 200 protesters to the house of an 85-year-old Spanish woman scheduled to be evicted (she was one month behind in rent). Firefighters, supposed to assist the police in the eviction, refused to do so.
Money Matters USA
❖ Matt Taibbi on the Dept of Justice’s “latest ploy . . . to insist it is ‘getting tough’ on Wall Street”: they can use the term ‘tough’ when they put “someone from one of these companies in jail for at least 24 hours, or . . . [extract] fines from either companies or individuals that represent at least slightly more than laughable fractions of their ill-gotten gains.”
❖ There’s ”growing dissent over [the Fed's] massive $85bn-a-month bond-buying plan.” While the “prevailing sentiment . . . is that the central bank’s efforts to pump tens of billions of dollars into the economy every month should not end anytime soon”, there is deep concern about interest rates rising.
❖ Go guys! “The millennial generation is aggressively whittling down its debt, as young people forgo homes and cars”. Their household median debt “fell 29% between 2007 and 2010″, compared to 8% of households headed by persons 35+ years of age.
❖ “7 spending cuts you’ll really feel” if the sequester kicks in March 1, including fewer unemployment benefits, cuts to Meals on Wheels, etc.
❖ Simpson and Bowles: “Feted by the establishment, but lacking both the ability to inspire consensus and the ability to inspire fear that’s needed to get this done.” To say nothing of the ability to provide solid data and analysis to support their proposals.
❖ While the usual crew of Republicans are determined to stop the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) figures Hagel is “as good as we’re going to get”.
❖ It’s official: “Blanche Lincoln, Former Arkansas Senator, Hired By Walmart”. Maybe Blanche can intervene in the case of the Walmart employee facing felony charges in IN for eating some Oreo cookies in the store “because she said that she couldn’t afford to pay for them with her salary.”
❖ NC, WV and NH have passed resolutions against Citizens United and urging Congress “to pass a constitutional amendment to reverse the 2010 decision and limit money in politics.”
❖ Hahahahaha. The Koch Brothers are in a tizzy, trying to figure out why the brazillions they’ve been spending to win elections haven’t produced all that much.
❖ Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is placing a hold on the nomination of John Brennan for CIA director.
❖ “Oregon lawmakers drop attempt to ban the sale of assault weapons and of high-capacity gun clips.” They are continuing with other gun control efforts, however.
❖ John McCain (R-AZ) was confronted by a mother whose child was murdered in the Aurora, CO massacre. She wants some form of assault weapons control. McCain told her “assault weapons ban will not pass the Congress of the United States.” The crowd cheered. Video.
❖ Unbelievable. “Houston Group Giving Away Shotguns In High-Crime Neighborhoods To Test If Crime Is Reduced”.
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
❖ FL Republican Gov. Rick Scott, with–ahem–“hands-on” experience in federally-funded medical care, wants his state to participate in the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
❖ “Illness is big business: American healthcare is embedded in a competitive medical industry, which often ignores extensive patient care.”
❖ Shout it from the house tops: “The traditional Medicare program allocates only 1 percent of total spending to overhead compared with 6 percent when the privatized portion of Medicare, known as Medicare Advantage, is included”.
❖ “Illinois budget cuts will kick [severely] mentally and physically disabled adults out of state homes without assurance they can find care elsewhere, their guardians say in a class action.”
❖ Scientists at Cornell University have printed out an ear using a 3-D printer and living-cell injections.
Women & Children
❖ Sexism? Check. Racism? Check. Republicans? Check. US House Republicans are trying to figure out a way to ensure non-Native Americans aren’t tried in Native American courts for attacking Native American women on Native American lands. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) just lets it all hang out: “Native American Juries Are Incapable Of Trying White People Fairly”.
❖ The National Collegiate Athletic Association has sued over a PA law “intended to steal $60 million from a Penn State University fund to help victims of child sex abuse and dump it into the state treasury”.
❖ The US government is very concerned about protecting trade secrets. They’ve warned about “the threat posed by Wikileaks, LulzSec, and other ‘hactivist’ groups that have the ability to get U.S. companies and expropriate confidential data.” They’ve developed a “strategy . . . focused on state-sponsored intrusions”, including from that Singapore building, among others. Their emphasis on combatting “corporate cybercrime” includes imposing trade measures.
Planet Earth News
❖ “Rupert Murdoch Tweets Opposition to Keystone XL”!
❖ Boeing’s telling federal regulators it has a temporary fix for its 787 Dreamliner batteries problem.
❖ FL’s great Burmese python hunt slithers away.