International Developments

Russia’s Chief of Staff wants their armed forces expanded “to at least a million men”.

❖ “A row has broken out in Kenya over whether spoiled ballots should be included in the presidential vote count”.   Update:  ”a computer bug is to blame”; it multiplied each rejected vote by 8.

❖ “Talks under way to free 21 UN peacekeepers held in Syria”.

Gen. James Mattis, US Central Command: “Afghan national security forces will be equipped with drone capabilities”.

Suleiman Abu Ghaith, al Qaeda spokesman and Osama bin Laden son-in-law, is now in federal custody in New York City.

❖ “Jordan is close to commissioning two nuclear power reactors” with United Arab Emirates “seed funding”.  UAE wants “to build four nuclear reactors” of its own.

❖ “Furious Over Sanctions, North Korea Vows To Nuke U.S.”  New UN-approved sanctions target “North Korean diplomats, cash transfers and access to luxury goods”, etc.

❖ Ya think?  “Israel’s segregated bus lines have touched a nerve.”

Silvio Berlusconi has been convicted of “breach of confidentiality for the illegal publication of wiretapped conversations.”  One year in jail.  Two other trials are still on-going.

Thee F-35A ready for training?  “Is.  Isn’t.  That about sums up the latest kerfluffle between the Pentagon’s top operational tester . . . the Air Force and its Joint Program Office.”

International Finance

❖ “The European Central bank slashed its eurozone economic outlook for next year, forecasting further contraction at a time of record unemployment”.  Don’t miss this: “Political centre at risk as eurozone fears” are revived and realization that “we only have the worst recession since the second world war” sets in.  Quick looks at the most painful symptoms, by country.

Money Matters USA

❖ “$5.5 billion in unpaid taxes and penalties . . . clawed back” from secret offshore accounts with  $5bn+ more expected to be collected.  The Internal Revenue Service is intent on continuing “relentless pursuit of wealthy Americans with secret accounts offshore”.  Yes.

❖ “Whistleblower: Wells Fargo Fabricated and Altered Mortgage Documents on a Mass Basis”–despite claiming it “had a ‘rigorous system’ to ensure that mortgage documents were accurate and complete.”  Why do whistleblowers have to do all the heavy lifting and run the risks?

Delphi (auto parts) moved its full-time employees’ retirement pensions to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. three years ago during bankruptcy.  “PBGC subsequently cut the retirees’ pensions by up to 70 percent.”  The employees involved have sued PBGC, which has clammed up.

❖ The Fed: “US Household Wealth Regains Pre-Recession Peak“.  This begs for some analysis.

❖ “Occupy Wall Street Has Raised Enough Money [$561,587] To Abolish $11,236,570 Of Personal Debt”.  This is their Rolling Jubilee campaign, by which they purchase and obliterate debt thus prohibiting debt-buyers from making money off it.

Politics USA

❖ He’s in:  “Brennan Confirmed to Lead the C.I.A.”

❖ He’s out:  Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) “will not seek re-election in 2014″.

❖ Voter fraud!  “Two former employees of the consulting firm Strategic Allied Consulting, whose head Nathan Sproul has a history of legal issues . . . [and] ties to the Republican Party, admitted to law enforcement that they committed voter fraud”.  3rd degree felony, but they were placed on probation instead.  Sproul has a “pastoral degree”.

❖ New York City may “Move Back to Lever Voting Machines For September Elections”.

Detroit’s City Council has voted to appeal Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to assign a financial manager to the city.

❖ Republicans are flattered at the attention President Obama is bestowing upon them.  House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says it’s a “hopeful sign”  Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is calling it “very constructive”and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) agrees.

Gun Corner

❖ The Senate Judiciary Committee voted “to increase the penalties for illegal” purchases of guns by others for individuals “who are prohibited from owning them.”

Richard D’Alauro, NRA field rep, is “barred from carrying a gun” due to “Years of domestic violence”.

Researchers using data from all 50 states for 121,084 firearm-related deaths from 2007 through 2010  concluded “A higher number of firearm laws in a state are associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities in the state”–suicides and homicides.

Justice, USA

❖ After all that dodging and drama, it turns out “Obama Can’t Order Drone Attack On Americans On US Soil”, per a  45-word letter from Attorney General Eric Holder.  This shortly after his “Aaron Swartz Case Was a ‘Good Use of Prosecutorial Discretion’” comment.  Emptywheel has more.

❖ “White House Explores How to Make War on Terror’ Policies Permanent”.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

Food riots:  The new normal?

Ease up on the salt, already.  Ditto processed meats.

Women & Children

❖ You’ve got to see this ad to believe it.

❖ A U.S. District Judge has “struck down a 2011 Idaho law that banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Working for A Living

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) have introduced bills to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10/hour.

❖ “Rand Paul Praises Horrendous Supreme Court Decision, Would Let Employers Ruthlessly Exploit Workers”.

Planet Earth News

❖ “Critical Part of Keystone Report Done by Firms with Deep Oil Industry Ties:  Two consulting firms provided State Department with key analysis of whether the pipeline would speed development of Canada’s oil sands”.

❖ The New York State Assembly extended the moratorium on fracking to May 2015, and authorized “further studies on the environmental impact” of fracking.

❖ The Fort Collins, CO City Council affirmed a fracking ban within the city limits.

Latin America

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva‘s thoughtful New York Times Op-Ed:  “Latin America After Chavez”.

❖ Laurence Wilkerson: “US Isolated in Latin America, Not Venezuela and Cuba.”

❖ What’ll be the impact on the environment and local peopleCanada’s Firestone Ventures plans to mine zinc-lead-silver, generating “a 97% after-tax internal rate of return” at Torlon Hill, about 7-1/2 miles northwest of the Guatemalan city of Huehuetenango.

Mixed Bag

The Dude abides.

Getcher “God.js” right cheer.

Break Time

Seal with a kiss