❖ US drones over the Persian Gulf now have military plane escorts.
❖ “U.S. exempts Syria’s opposition forces from sanctions”.
❖ “US ‘to boost missile defences’, to counter North Korea”. 44 interceptors on the West Coast.
❖ “Egypt’s old regime depended on . . . an uneasy partnership between the military . . ., the security services . . . , and the political establishment. The uprising in January 2011 disrupted this delicate balance . . . and it isn’t yet clear who is the winner.” Recent political goings-on underscore that lack of clarity.
❖ “US Cyber Command Admits Offensive Cyberwarfare Capabilities, Fundamental Shift in US Doctrine”. General Keith Alexander said the new team “is not a defensive team. This is an offensive team”.
❖ “North Korea says US ‘behind hack attack’” on its internet servers.
❖ Matthew Fox, ex-Catholic priest, respected church historian “discusses the Vatican’s work with the CIA and it’s alliance with far right political forces and Pope Francis’ position on liberation theology in Latin America. Update: “Vatican Lashes Out At ‘Defamatory’ and ‘Anti-Clerical Left-Wing’ Forces”
❖ “[A]llegations that [Pope Francis] and the Roman Catholic Church were guilty of the sin of omission–and perhaps worse–during the brutal military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983″, during the “dirty war”. More: Bergoglio’s testimony during a closed hearing in 2010.
❖ Inside the EU meeting in Brussels, Mario Monti, exiting prime minister of Italy, said “public support for the reforms, and worse, for the European Union is dramatically declining.” Outside, the people were speaking–en masse–in demonstrations and protests.
❖ Another Austerity perk: “The UK tax authority is to close all of its 281 Enquiry Centres which gave face-to-face help to 2.5 million people with tax queries last year”. Oh, they’ll still be able to dial for help and there’s something about “home visits”, too, but . . .
Money Matters USA
❖ According to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, JPMorgan Chase “piled on risk, ignored limits on risk-taking, dodged oversight and misinformed the public.” The Subcommittee is focusing on London Whale gambling activities.
❖ Jamie Dimon ok’d the increased risks JPMorgan took that resulted in the “$6.2 Billion Fiasco” via an e-mail, which is in the Subcommittee report.
❖ “Ina Drew, the former JPMorgan chief investment officer, broke her public silence [before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations] on the Wall Street bank’s $6bn ‘London whale’ trading loss on Friday, blaming it on two underlings”.
❖ Matt Taibbi wonderfully live-blogging (with great background info) some of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ hearing today. Brings to mind the old Watergate-era phrase “twisting in the wind”.
❖ “Two affiliates of SAC Capital, the giant hedge fund, settled insider trading charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission for $614 million”. No charges brought against SAC founder and CEO, the billionaire Steve A. Cohen, btw.
❖ President Obama to House Democrats: Better to change entitlements under me than a Republican.
❖ Republican remorse: Sen. John Thune (R-SD) is remorseful over sequestration, though his conspiracy side surged to the fore as he blamed the Obama administration for hand-picking places to apply the sequester. More remorse from Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX).
❖ Republican remorse: Now that his son has come out, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) has announced “a change of heart” and is no longer opposed to gay marriage.
❖ Not Republican remorse: “‘The World According to Dick ["Dick"] Cheney’ is place with no regret”. Review of a new film with this great line: “So here he is, a man with no regrets, as queasily fascinating as a two-headed calf”.
❖ Hurt feelings, though: “Senate Republicans tell Obama to tone down political attacks.”
❖ New York “GOP Assemblyman accused of pot possession on Thruway”. Psst: he voted against a medical marijuana bill last year.
❖ FL “real estate broker Greg Eagle . . . pleaded guilty to four counts of bank fraud, one count each of mail fraud and wire fraud”, joining other “high-profile bundlers of campaign cash for [Charlie] Crist who now face jail time.”
❖ “NYPD make 5 millionth stop-and-frisk under Bloomberg: More than 86 percent of people stopped were black or Latino.”
❖ The DC Court of Appeals has ruled “CIA must give a fuller response to a lawsuit seeking the spy agency’s records on drone attacks.” The court pointed out that even President Obama has “clearly acknowledged a drone program”. More from Emptywheel.
❖ How to keep drones out of your backyard.
❖ Before the Supreme court: Does an AZ proof-of-citizenship law for voting violate the Voting Rights Act?
❖ “Former employees may sue a company that provided security for the State Department in Afghanistan, on charges that it falsified workers’ firearms performance tests”. “a company” = Academi = Xe = Blackwater.
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
❖ “Why an MRI costs $1,080 in America and $280 in France”.
❖ Penny Pritzker, major cheerleader for charter schools, is leaving the Chicago Board of Education. Yay! She’s headed for the US Commerce Secretary post. Oh, well. Pritzker and Rahmbo showered each other with praise as she departed.
Planet Earth News
❖ Wells at Camp LeJeune, NC marine base were contaminated by “cancer-causing solvents for as long as 60 years” according to a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
❖ A malfunctioning natural gas well in Wyoming County, PA “will remain capped as regulators investigate what caused thousands of gallons of fracking fluid to flow from the drilling site”.
❖ “Federal Legislation Aims to Close ‘Fracking Loopholes’” in the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, thanks to Rep. Matthew Cartwright (D-PA).
❖ “EPA likely to delay climate rules for new power plants”.
❖ Phoenix, AZ “may not survive climate change.”
❖ Head of the UN Development Program, noting that the war on drugs is a failure–and that she is a former health minister–said Latin American countries should “act on evidence” in dealing with the drug scourge.
❖ Check out “Rez Radio”.