Greetings!

International Developments

11 countries in the “Lakes Region” around the Democratic Republic of Congo “have signed a UN-brokered accord which aims to bring peace to the troubled eastern region”. Rwanda and Uganda–long supported by US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, even while they contributed to rebel efforts to overthrow the government of DR Congo–did sign.

❖ 13 of Chad’s soldiers “have died while fighting in northern Mali.”  65 “Islamist rebels” were reported dead.

❖ A 20-year-old Bahraini protester has died after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister.

❖ The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) “has pulled out of a series of international meetings in protest at what it said was the ‘shameful’ failure to stop violence.”

A major “influx of heavy weaponry” to Syrian rebels, coming through Jordan, may have been supplied by the US “and its major European allies”, as well as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates,  Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  They’re alarmed at the “soaring influence of Islamists”.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered “American special forces two weeks to leave the eastern province of Wardak” due to reported torture and abuse of Afghans by Afghan troops.

❖ Oh, joy.  “Iran announces uranium finds and power plant expansion”.

❖ Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard claims to have taken “control of [a foreign] drone’s navigation system and brought it down” in southern Iran yesterday.

President Mohammed Morsi has moved Egypt’s elections  from the 27th to the 22nd of April, in deference to Coptic Christians.  Update:  “Mohamed ElBaradei of National Salvation Front says he will not join poll ‘deception’”.

❖ “Thousands of Palestinian prisoners are refusing food for one day in protest at the death of a fellow detainee in an Israeli jail.”

❖ Excellent question.  The Chinese have accused the Dalai Lama of all manner of terrible things.  What if they assassinated him by drone?

International Finance

❖ “So what should we make of a part of the world where governments have resolutely turned their back on [the austerity] model, slashed poverty and inequality, taken back industries and resources from corporate control, massively expanded public services and democratic participation–and keep getting re-elected in fiercely contested elections?”

❖ “Tens of thousands of protesters across Spain have been rallying against the government’s austerity measures . . . ‘Marea Ciudadana’–or the ‘Tide of Citizens’.”  Video.

❖ The compassion and grace of the ruling class never fail to amaze.  Germany’s Development Minister:  “food tainted with horsemeat should be distributed to the poor”.

82% of the Royal Bank of Scotland is publicly-owned, but apparently not for long.  RBS has announced it will “float” some 15 to 25% of “Citizens, its US bank . . . ahead of eventual reprivatisation.”

❖ On Friday, Moody’s downgraded the UK for the first time since 1978.  Result:  ”UK downgrade reignites austerity debate”.

Money Matters USA

❖ “Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard’s Outside ‘Consulting and Advisory Relationships’”.  From there you can get to the even juicier “[Columbia University professor] Fred Mishkin’s ‘Outside Compensation’ List Revealed.”

The F-35, “the biggest conventional weapons program ever for any country”, has become so huge a headache that the entire fleet has been grounded.  Emptywheel speculates on China.

Politics USA

❖ What the nation’s politicians have wrought by the sequestration:   “40,000 teachers in all could lose their jobs”, with Head Start and programs for children with military families hurt;  “furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration“, throwing “air travel in the country into a tailspin”;  200,000+ jobs in the health care sector will be lost, food inspections may be reduced, and “medical research . . . set back a generation”; major cuts of all kinds across the states.

❖ Is the White House to blame for the sequester?  Bob Woodward of Watergate fame thinks so.  According to Talking Points Memo, however,  ”Woodward it just dead wrong“.

❖ “Does [House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)] Even Have the Votes to Replace the Sequester?”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is saying Chuck Hagel (R) will be confirmed as Secretary of Defense “this week”.

Tuesday is the day for a vote by the Senate Finance Committee on Jack Lew’s nomination as Treasury Secretary.  Republicans are “raising stakes” for Lew’s confirmation.

❖ Could former MT Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) be contemplating a presidential run next go ’round?

❖  AZ Gov. Jan Brewer (R)  ”stressed that the border is not secure, saying that she ‘visually saw’ drug cartels planning to cross during a recent trip to the border.”

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) insists that any gun control measure not include “government records of gun sales.”

Women & Children

❖  Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Breaking Legal Ground.

House Republicans’ version  of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization fails to  protect LGBT women, undocumented women and Native American women.  Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), author of the law, “derided the legislation”.

❖ Case history illustrating the grotesque and painful situation that prevails on Indian reservations when a crime, including rape, occurs there.  Even when federal jurisdiction is established, the US Justice Dept doesn’t prosecute in 65% of rape cases.

IN state senate GOPers are intent on mandating a medically unnecessary practice for use on women seeking abortion–the transvaginal ultrasound.

Education Directions

❖ “Rand Paul: Schools are failing to fix economic inequality, so let’s privatize education.”

Michelle Rhee’s group has “donated $250,000 . . . to contest for seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education”.  The LA teachers union is opposed.  LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is all for it.

❖  Michelle Rhee’s group donated $13,000 to “Two candidates for the upcoming Burbank School Board election”, though neither candidate seems to know why nor even to particularly agree with Michelle Rhee.  Burbank teachers union is opposed.

Planet Earth News

Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General’s: “Limited data and unreliable estimates on air pollution from oil and natural gas production is hindering [the EPA]‘s efforts to police the drilling boom”.  Here’s the report.

❖  3D printing’s impact on solar energy.

Mixed Bag

❖ One well-traveled, aged, stepped-upon brick.

Cutie-pie frog.

Break Time

 Wind songs