International Developments

Transfer of Bagram Prison from US to  Afghan control cancelled due to disagreements between US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Afghan  President Hamid Karzai.  A suicide bomber struck about three hours later, “killing at least 10 people”, including 2 Afghan soldiers.  Update:  Afghan President Hamid Karzai accuses ”US forces of colluding with Taliban”.

Those 21 UN peacekeepers have been freed by Syrian rebels.

There could be 3 million Syrian refugees by year’s end.

❖ “Uhuru Kenyatta, charged with crimes against humanity, declared winner” in Kenya’s presidential election.  Results are being challenged.

❖ “A Nigerian Islamist militant group’s claims to have killed several foreign hostages it seized last month are credible, Western governments say.”

❖ 21 people have been sentenced to death for the riots in Port Said’s stadium in February, 2012.   The verdict enraged football fans in both Port Said and Cairo, with protests resulting in one death.  They’ve now turned their furor on the Suez Canal.

Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN is “in line to become Obama’s national security adviser”.

International Finance

❖ “There will be no more austerity measures,” said Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, with Greece’s “ailing economy . . . out of intensive care, not out of the hospital.”  We could say it’s out of the torture chamber and into the hospital.

❖ “US and Europe launch derivatives reform.”

“BP is warning investors that the price tag will be ‘significantly higher’ than it initially estimated for its multibillion-dollar settlement” for its Gulf of Mexico oil gusher.

Money Matters USA

❖ The FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission, “examining high-frequency trading are facing an uphill battle [due to] incomplete records to interpreting volumes of trades executed in milliseconds.”  Proving “evidence of intent” is also a challenge.

❖ Who didn’t see this coming?  “The insurance industry is ill-prepared to handle climate change-related disasters . . ..”

❖ “Members of AFSCME Council 25 in MI are spending their Sunday marching in protest against the possibility of an Emergency Financial Manager for Detroit”, which MI Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is rarin’ to install.

❖ “Billion-dollar investors backed by Wall Street continue to buy metro Phoenix [AZ] houses with plans to turn them into rentals.”

Regressive taxes, which hit the poor the hardest, spread in the Deep South following the Civil War, and have only gotten worse in the past 30 years–spreading now to the Western states. Such taxes have a negative impact on death rates, property crimes and public expenditures.

Politics USA

Jeb Bush was scheduled on five teevee shows today.  He told teevee host David Gregory “Man, you guys are crack addicts”, then “heroin addict”; he guessed that “history will be kind to my brother”; he thinks there’s no “Bush baggage” to impede his political ambitions;  and his book, which opposes a “path to citizenship” is actually in synch with bipartisan immigration reform efforts.

❖ The United Steelworkers is supporting the “Keep Social Security Promises Act” which Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Harry Reid (D-NV) have introduced, together with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)’s companion bill in the House.

❖ An 86-year-old woman who has “always voted, ever since I’ve been old enough to”, had a memory slip-up during the 2012 election and voted twice.  She’s being charged by the Nicollett County, MN’s Attorney’s Office with a felony.

Gun Corner

❖ Despite intimidation, including death threats, CO’s senate held firm, debated and then advanced five gun control bills.

US household gun ownership has been declining for the past 40 years: from 50% of homes in the ’70s to 34% in 2012, according to the General Social Survey. Interesting data by region, age, political affiliation etc.

❖ Heh heh.  “NRA’s silence on UN arms treaty surprises gun control campaigners: Last year, Wayne LaPierre led the charge to kill the world’s first Arms Trade Treaty, but this time the NRA may be spread too thin.”

❖ “A New York town that began assigning an armed police officer to guard a high school . . . has suspended the program after an officer accidentally discharged his pistol in a hallway while classes were in session.”

Droning On

The “Air Force has quietly erased previously published drone strike data from it website.  Additionally, the Air Force has now changed its policy of publishing statistics of drone strikes in Afghanistan each month.”  Before-and-after screenshots.

❖ Splashy NY Times account of the steps and mis-steps resulting in the killing by drones of US citizens Anwar al-Awlaki, Sami Kahn and al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman.  Emptywheel discusses the article, here and here and here, noting “how hard the NYT worked to preserve the [official] narrative”.

Gary Hart on drones:  “When technology at the service of expediency dictates our policies, we are no longer the nation we were created to be and that we continue to tell ourselves we are, a constitutional democracy.”

Women & Children

KS Republicans have another doozy in the works:  People who are associated with an abortion provider will be barred from working or volunteering in a public school.

❖ While the Steubenville, OH rape case goes to trial this Wednesday, there’s a ghastly story out of Turkey where the alleged victim–who killed and decapitated her rapist–is now in jail.

Planet Earth News

❖ From a new study:  “45 current or former [PA] state officials have links to [the fracking] industry.”

A TransCanada commissioned  study predicted 119,935 non-permanent jobs created to build the Keystone XL pipeline and 553,235 permanent jobs afterwards.  The US State Dept.’s study predicts 42,100 non-permanent jobs and 35 permanent ones.

❖ “Critics say a report released Friday proves Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Southern California Edison were aware of design flaws in the steam generators installed at San Onofre [San Diego County, CA nuclear plant] and chose not to fix the problems.”

❖  Germany “has withdrawn their arrest warrant” for Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Mixed Bag

❖ “Man has 75% of skull replaced with 3-D printed implant.”

Break TIme

Trying to get to you  (RIP Alvin Lee, guitar)