Greetings!

International Developments

❖ “Nobody spent three years in VIetnam.  We don’t have young men who have seen this much combat since the American-Indian wars”, according to Douglas Ollivant, retired Army officer. Result:  “US Army fights brain drain”.

Life under drones:  “The Associated Press–in a rare on-the-ground look unaccompanied by military or security–visited two Afghan villages . . . near the border with Pakistan to talk to residents [about the impact of] drone strikes.”

❖ “US Sends B-2s to South Korea for Military Drills”.

❖ “Central African Republic’s army chiefs pledged allegiance to the country’s self-proclaimed president Michel Djotodia.”  13 South African soldiers, sent to protect former President Francois Bozize were killed in the fighting.

Special UN combat force approved for disarming eastern Democratic Republic of Congo rebels.

❖ “Mortar kills 20 at Damascus university“; rebels are blamed.  More than “2.4 million people in the city are in urgent need of assistance, and . . . 510,000 have [been] forced from their homes.”

According to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, ”governments have supplied only 30% of $1.5m aid pledge to help 4m internally displaced” people in Syria.

Did Turkey deport Syrian refugees suspected of being involved in a riot?  Turkey’s saying no; the UN is investigating.

Nelson Mandela is in hospital in South Africa for a recurring lung infection; he’s “responding positively” to treatment.

International Finance

Banks opened in Cyprus today, as scheduled, people queued up and began transactions in an orderly manner.  The entire board of Cyprus Popular Bank has resigned.

The Central Bank of Cyprus formerly limited banks to using only 30% “of their foreign deposits to support local lending”. That policy was overturned when Cyprus joined the euro, which led to “billions more local lending”.  A credit bubble was created, aided by a variety of other factors.  And here we are.

Money Matters USA

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is introducing a bill to break up “too-big-to-fail” banks.

❖ “Congress is spending $380 million on a missile program that has no funding authorization, doesn’t work, and the Department of Defense doesn’t plan on buying.”

❖ The oligarchs have three things in common regarding their wealth:  “Protecting and preserving” it, “Insuring unrestricted use” of it, and “Acquiring more”.  And they are very active “Inside Our Democracy”.

❖ More gloating:  “Walmart Faces the Cost of Cost-Cutting: Empty Shelves”.

Presscott Rosche sprang up out of nowhere, targeting “homes in the legal limbo of foreclosure” in FL.  Given all the broken paper trails concerning ownership of the homes, authorities are having difficulty determining who does or doesn’t own a property.  Sordid mess.

“Jobless Claims in U.S. Increase More Than Forecast.”

Caterpillar is laying off 300 workers in its South Milwaukee plant.

Politics USA

Long-time Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino (D) will not seek re-election.

MI’s “right-to-work” law goes into effect today, bringing Gov. Rick Snyder (R) out for pancakes and politicking in Detroit.  He was met by members of the American Federation of Teachers in Michigan, among others.

❖ Gov Scott Walker (R)’s state is now 44th in terms of private-sector job creation– down from 37 a year ago, making the state a “clear laggard” in the Midwest.

❖ The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is running an ad against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is supporting MwcConnell.

John McLaughlin, “a pollster for GOP firm Resurgent Republic“, has delivered the message to Republicans:  “Republican Voters Don’t Care About ‘Pathway to Citizenship’.”

Gun Corner

Large document release from the Newtown, CT school massacre.  Adam Lanza had on a bullet-proof vest, had a National Rifle Association certificate, etc.

Droning On

❖  A month-long series of protests against US drones: . . . ‘April Days of Action’”.  Protests will be kicked off on April 3rd in New York.  Dates, places, etc., are here.

❖ “Let’s Make Drone Strikes Safe, Legal, and Rare:  It would be easy to replace our current killing program with a slightly altered one with sufficient protections for innocent civilians, American citizens, and rule of law.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

Restaurant chains are cutting their initial cost estimates for Obamacare by as much as 80%.  Why?  “‘It’s just not affordable for employees.’”

Interesting Q & A on “Advice for Small Employers Confused by Obamacare”.

The War on Women

❖ How far do  women have to travel from Fargo, ND to obtain a medical procedure called ‘abortion’.  (Minneapolis is the nearest, only 3 hours and 28 minutes away, per Google maps.)

❖ “North Dakota anti-abortion activists attempt to re-open Roe v Wade debate; America has no ‘culture war’ about legal abortion rights: only an extreme minority wants to replay the issue in the supreme court.”

Four high school football players in Torrington, CT have now been charged with statutory rape of two 13-year-old girls.

❖ When you thought it couldn’t get worse:  “[T]he president of the Steubenville [OH] chapter of the NAACP places the blame for the rape case that has shocked the nation on the 16-year-old victim.”

Education Directions

Major demonstration in Chicago to protest the closure of “54 schools affecting more than 30,000 students primarily in low-income black and Latino areas.”   Nonetheless, Rahmbo’s “moving forward on the closing plan“, even though 3 meetings are scheduled for each school he plans to close.

Planet Earth News

❖ Fingers crossed! “A solar-powered plane that has wowed aviation fans in Europe is preparing to fly across North America.”

76% of US residents polled “want ‘more emphasis‘ on producing solar power”, 71% think the same about wind power”.  Only 46% want more emphasis on oil–71% of Repubs, compared to 29% of Dems.

Latin America

❖ “Hundreds of armed vigilantes have occupied [Tierra Colorada in Guerrero state, Mexico] after one of their leaders was killed”. They’ve detained the local police chief who, they say, cooperates with drug gangs.

❖ The US is following up, investigating claims that foreign aid meant for the Honduran police actually goes to “the country’s law enforcement chief, . . . accused of human rights violations.”

Mixed Bag

❖ Don’t miss:  Champagne Supernova.

Break Time

Logical Song