Howdy!

International Developments

❖ “Reports of Syrian jet fire into Lebanon called ‘significant escalation’”.

Avigdor Lieberman, former Israeli foreign minister “says anyone who thinks peace can be reached with the Palestinians is ‘delusional.’”

❖ “Terror Haven in Mali Feared After French Leave”.

“The lies of two Iraqi spies were central to the claim . . . that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  But even before the fighting started, intelligence from highly-placed sources was available suggesting he did not”.  The spies:  “Curveball”, or Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, Iraqi defector and Maj Muhammed Harith, former Iraqi intelligence officer”.

❖ “US bill to rebuild Iraq reaches $138bn”.   Kellog Brown and Root (Dick “Dick”‘s old firm) are first at the trough,  followed by Agility Logistics of Kuwait and state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation.

❖ “The U.S. State Department confirmed . . . that Rwanda-born former Congolese General Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court for suspected war crimes in Congo, has given himself up at the US. Embassy in Kigali.”

❖ “Crippled Japanese nuclear plant [Fukushima] suffers blackout”.  ” . . . three storage pools without fresh cooling water for hours . . ..”

No more commercial flight service to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, says the US Navy, ”citing a long overlooked regulation.”  Overlooked “since the 1980s”, it seems.  Lawyers, journalists and Red Cross volunteers” will have to use military flights.  Jim White takes a look at this.

International Finance

❖ They’re working overtime to demonstrate the validity of the Law of Holes.  “Cyprus can amend the terms of a bailout deal that has sparked huge public anger and led to heavy cash withdrawals”–just so long as Cyprus maintains their “financial contribution of 5.8bn euros”.  Protesters are blaming Germany.  “Russia attacks Cyprus bailout plan“:  “unfair, unprofessional and dangerous”.  Cyprus banks won’t open until Thursday.   “Postcards from Cyprus“.

❖ “Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens national sovereignty, extends corporate rights, and targets China” while preventing “Regulation of Hot Money and Speculation”.

Money Matters USA

Why does Congress make the US Postal Service “pre-fund” 75 years of retiree health care costs in advance–and do so in just 10 years?  Remove that crushing burden and you’ll find the USPS “earned a $100 million profit in the last three months of 2012″–without using a penny of taxpayer money.

❖ “Jeffrey Altman, Founder and Portfolio Manager for Owl Creek Asset Management, and Robert Bishop, of Impala Asset Management, each seized an opportunity in the days following the Sandy Hook Shooting, to purchase millions of shares in gun stocks“.   ” . . . $13,642,000 [and] $27,787,000, respectively”.

Politics USA

❖ “President Obama has selected the Justice Department’s top civil rights enforcer Tomas Perez to be his next Labor secretary.”  Adam Serwer says progressives will love him, Republicans not-so-much.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) says he’ll place on hold on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency

❖ Pew Research Center on the “State of the Media”:  “since 2007, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC have all cut back sharply on . . . actual reporting”.

❖ “Republicans: There’s No Debt Crisis, We Just Want to Screw the Poor”.

❖ From the land of flying pigs and unicorns, the Republican idea for getting minority votes: “hiring hundreds of paid people across the country this year to make the case in minority communities across America.” This in the wake of the CPAC shouting match about “white disenfranchisement”.

❖ “CPAC:  Where Ashley Judd Rape Jokes Happen”.

❖ “The Republican problem with Hispanic voters–in 7 charts”.

❖ Can you name the Republicans who can speak Spanish?  It would be a “tremendous benefit” if the 2016 Republican candidate for president could, says Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.  (I’ll start:   JEB, Marco)

❖ Hindsight:  “Ten years later, 53 percent say the U.S. should not have invaded Iraq”.  Results from a Gallup poll.

❖ Yr gubmint at werk:  “Idaho lawmakers are targeting a topic they say should be taboo on television–premarital sex.”

❖ “Little knives and cellphones on planes?  This won’t end well.”

Justice USA

US Supreme Court justices are considering “whether states may require people to submit proof of citizenship in order to register to vote”, as required by an AZ law passed in 2004.  Their oral arguments today indicated the justices “appeared narrowly divided along ideological grounds”.

Women & Children

MO legislature Republicans overturned Gov. Jay Nixon (D)’s veto of their bill requiring “insurers to issue policies without contraception coverage if individuals or employers objected because of religious or moral beliefs.”  A federal judge just struck it down.

❖ Eeeeeeek!  A “Conservative Mystery Date”.

❖ A Swiss couple bicycling through India, camped over-night in a Madhya Pradesh forest.  They were beaten and the woman raped by eight men.  Update:  Six men are under arrest for the rape.

Education Directions

❖ “Most low-income students who have top test scores and grades do not even apply to the nation’s best colleges”.

❖ Examples of things gone very wrong in education:  “a teacher at a ‘D’-rated [charter] school . . . sees a miraculous jump in test scores and gets a bonus”; 40% of the evaluation of an “award-winning” elementary school teacher was based on “test scores of students she never taught.”

Cheating in the El Paso school district--by an administrator, who deliberately changed data “to meet federal accountability measures.”  And this isn’t the first time: a former “El Paso school superintendent . . . is in federal prison” for the same thing.

Latin America

❖ “Made in the U.S.A.: The Role of American Guns in Mexican Violence“.

❖ “Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, economy minister during . . . Argentina’s ‘dirty war’ . . . and architect of some of the . . . most infamous economic experiments” is dead.  He was under house arrest pending investigation for kidnapping.  David Rockefeller thought him–”brilliant, solid and absolutely realistic”–and gave him Chase Bank loans.

As the Rios Montt genocide and crimes against humanity trial illustrates, Guatemalan “prosecutors are taking long-dormant human rights cases to court, armed with evidence that victims and their advocates have painstakingly compiled over more than a decade”.

Mixed Bag

Mts. Everest and Aconcagua in “Google Street View“.

Break Time

Lascaux (virtual explorer–menu on far left)

Photo by HTO, in the public domain