Howdy!

International Developments

❖ Is Tony Blair considering a new career in stand-up comedy?  “Blair Says Iraq Would Be ‘Worse Than Syria’ Now, if Antiwar Critics Had Prevailed”.

❖ “The Iraq War Was a Good Idea, if You ask the Kurds”.

❖ “Al-Qaeda’s North African offshoot says it has killed a French businessman captured in Mali in 2011 . . . in retaliation for France’s intervention”.

Al-Qaida claims responsibility for Iraq anniversary bombing”.

❖ “Saudi Arabia arrests 18 for spying:  An Iranian, a Lebanese and 16 Saudis”.

❖ Profile: The new “prime minister of an interim Syrian government”.

❖ “Two people have been wounded in explosions at Turkey’s justice ministry and the headquarters of the governing AK Party”.  Rocket attack.

❖ President Obama:  “U.S. Will Investigate Whether Chemical Weapons Were Used in Syria” and “Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria Would Be ‘Game Changer’”, though he is “‘Deeply Skeptical’ Rebels Used Chemical Weapons In Syria.”

❖ “Critics warn that without US intervention Netanyahu’s expansion of settlements will doom peace talks and threaten Israel itself.”  Update: “Barack Obama hails ‘eternal’ US-Israeli alliance“.   Update:  Obama planted a tree  in Israel; authorities promptly dug it up.

❖ “Rat at Fukushima Plant May Have Caused Blackout”.

International Finance

❖ “Germany’s finance minister [Wolfgang Schaeuble] has warned Cyprus that its crisis-stricken banks may never be able to reopen if it rejects the terms of the bailout”.  Major developments: “Cyprus: Will the Mouse That Roared be Gored?” Don’t miss the updates!

❖ “Christine Lagarde’s flat raided by French police . . . amid inquiry into her handling of €285m payout to Nicolas Sarkozy supporter Bernard Tapie.”

There’s an EU effort afoot “to put massive [corporate executive] earnings in check” .

Money Matters USA

❖ Some Democrats in the House are set to vote in favor of bills to weaken Dodd-Frank and protect the banksters.  [See yesterday's Roundup for more detail.]

❖ While Washington, DC denizens dither, “Big Majority [72%] Supports Public Spending for Jobs.”  Gallup poll.

“State, Local Governments Consider Aggressive Tax Collection Efforts To Plug Budget Holes”.

Why are US taxpayers footing the bill for $7bn a year oil and gas companies’ subsidies?  The companies rake in that much after taxes:  $7.5bn – Exxon in 2012, $7.1bn – Occidential Petroleum.

MF Global’s settlement is winding down with “the firm’s customers inch[ing] closer to being made whole”.

Rahmbo’s Chicago has contracted out much of the Chicago Transit Authority’s activities.  Under an arrangement with Pace Ventra, consumers can get a “Mastercard prepaid debit account”.  You won’t believe the fees attached to the cards. Amazing.

Politics USA

Having won the sequester war, “Republicans . . . have become emboldened . . . [indicating they] will not only set future appropriations at sequestration levels, but [will]  attempt to take even more money out of domestic programs and use it to increase national defense”.  Thanks, Dems.  Hello, Austerity USA!

❖ “Senate approves huge 2013 spending bill” with huge cuts intact through September 2013.

❖ “Obama’s secrecy fixation causing Sunshine Week implosion: Even the most loyal establishment Democrats are now harshly denouncing the president for his war on transparency”.

Gov. Rick Perry (R)’s “$487 Million Corporate Slush Fund Doesn’t Need Your Stinkin’ Audit”.

Some of TX agencies’ executive employees are being paid very handsome salaries, while average salaries at the agencies have not increased nearly as much.

❖ Had your heart set on Ashley Judd running against Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY)?  Bill and Hillary Clinton are promoting Alison Lundergan Grimes, currently KY Secretary of State, instead.

Elizabeth Colbert Busch (Stephen Colbert’s sister) will be the Democratic contender for House of Representatives member from SC.

PA’s state government “has the highest-paid governor . . .. the second-highest lawmaker salaries, and there’s no ban on how much money a candidate can raise to campaign for elected office.”

Ken Cuccinelli (R-VA), VA’s Attorney General who is running for governor, digs deep into his understanding of US history: “Start right at the beginning–slavery.  Today, abortion.”  Actually, the beginning was genocide and today’s misogynistic zealotry equals oppression of women.

Gun Corner

CO’s Director of Corrections, Tom Clements, was shot and killed at his residence  yesterday evening.  No suspect yet, but a “vehicle of interest” has been identified.

CO Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) has signed that historic package of gun bills the state’s lawmakers passed recently.

The NRA going global?

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ Sacramento County, CA’s Board of Supervisors began squeezing the county’s primary care clinics in the mid-2000s.   Result: vIsits to the county’s clinics decreased by half, or  80,000  between 2008-2012 while visits to local hospital ERs went up by . . . wait for it . . . 80,000.

Are the mentally ill systematically mistreated and abused in Bureau of Prisons facilities?  “Enough Is Enough–Time for the Feds to Investigate Prison Abuse”.

Women & Children

❖ The vile rape culture-high school football phenomenon seen in Steubenville, OH is by no means isolated.  Check out Torrington, CT.

Kansas  fast becoming a no-woman’s-land.  70-page omnibus and ominous bill, combining many past anti-abortion bills, won 92-31 in the state House and is headed to the GOP-controlled Senate

Planet Earth News

❖ Wow!  “Ocean plankton sponge up nearly twice the carbon currently assumed.”

❖ “The United States added a staggering 3.3 gigawatts of solar power capacity in 2012 [an amount] greater than all of the solar power capacity added for the three previous years combined.”

❖ “The Helmholtz Association of Research Centres, a major German scientific body with more than 30,000 researchers and US$4.4 billion in annual funding, has dropped out of a joint Alberta tar sands project over fears that the project was damaging the institution’s reputation.”

Will Obama’s EPA cave on stronger carbon rules for new power plants?

❖ There are no words:  “86 elephants killed in Chad poaching massacre.”

Latin America

Colombia’s Coroner’s Office “has found evidence of a toxic substance in the prison cell of a key witness in a case linking former President Alvaro Uribe to a paramilitary group.”

Humans in Latin America 22,000 years ago? More.

Break Time

❖ Hungry?  Pitch a fit.