Greetings!

International Developments

❖ “Camp Nama:  British personnel reveal horrors of secret US base in Baghdad:  Detainees . . .  subjected to human-rights abuses at detention centre, say British witnesses.” Established to extract info about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, torture continued for other reasons once the WMD lie was exposed. General Stanley McChrystal’s role, the extraordinary secrecy imposed, etc.

❖ US F-22 Raptor stealth fighters are on their way to South Korea from Okinawa.

❖ That M23 rebel group in Democratic Republic of Congo, ”has rejected the UN’s decision to deploy a special attack force to the area.”

❖ Yesterday, an Egyptian teevee satirist had to post bail for  offending President Mohammed Morsi and his religion.  Now, a Kuwaiti who insulted head dude Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah on Twitter has been sentenced to two years in jail for the “crime”.

An Israeli teenager who has spent over 100 days in prison for his refusal to enlist in the Israeli army is prepared to be sentenced again–the 8th time–for his beliefs.

Private newspapers are making a come-back in Burma.

Caroline Kennedy,  next US Ambassador to Japan.

International Finance

❖ Hope he keeps this up:  “Pope Francis uses Easter address to denounce ‘greed looking for easy gain’: Pope appears to put uncaring capitalism on a par with the armed conflicts traditionally deplored in the annual Urbi et Orbi addresses”.

Greece will begin efforts to sell off its national rail service in June.  Austerity at work.

Cyprus hopes to “kickstart its ailing economy” by lifting “a ban on casinos and offer firms tax exemptions on profits reinvested on the island”.  What they’re up against for accepting that “rescue package”:   deepening recession, shrinking banking sector, and “thousands of job losses”.  Austerity at work.

Money Matters USA

❖ Walk through “Wells Fargo’s ‘Reprehensible’ Foreclosure Abuses” and you’ll heartily agree with Yves Smith: “It’s time to admit the [Office of the Controller of the Currency] is beyond repair.  It should be abolished . . ..  One hopelessly corrupt regulator is one too many.”  On the bright side, you’ll be cheering for Elizabeth Magner, US bankruptcy judge in New Orleans.

❖ “Could the Banksters Grab Your Bank Deposits?”  Is water wet?

❖  “[T]hese big companies think patriotism toward the country where they were created and prospered is for chumps.”  The author asked CEOs of the 20 largest US corporations if they’d pledge allegiance to the flag in front of their annual shareholders’ meetings.  Only one replied; he declined.

Are Mexican drug cartels installing top-ranking members “deep” inside the US?

❖ On July 1, 2013, the interest rate on Stafford loans for college students will go from 3.4 to 6.8%.

Politics USA

Obama’s budget, supposed to be out around April 10th, “will likely include the chained CPI for Social Security” and an increase in deductibles for 80% of Medicare beneficiaries.  How long are we stuck with him?

❖ They actually sit around and think these things up.  Republicans in the TN legislature are pushing a bill that will “cut welfare benefits of parents with children performing poorly in school”.

Ashley Judd’s stepping out of the race for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’s seat “was the result of a calculated effort by a small group of Democrats to stifle her electoral prospects.”  Yes, the Clintons probably qualify as a ‘small group’.

❖ Oh, the horror! “Georgia GOP Chair Warns That Straight People Will Enter Sham Gay Marriages For Benefits”.

Gun Corner

❖ Week 2 of the Republican outreach to minorities, including women, roll-out:  CO’s Republican Party “is making a high-profile effort to derail Democratic legislation that would disarm domestic abusers.”

Droning On

Boeing “helped defeat a Republican proposal in Washington state that would have forced government agencies to get approval to buy unmanned aerial vehicles” drones . . .  “and to obtain a warrant before using them to conduct surveillance on individuals.”

❖ Have US drones actually produced more terrorists in Pakistan?  That’s important to assess, but so are other factors:  lack of balance in “hard and soft power”; the sharp decline in schools in tribal area regions saturated with drones; displacement of and deep fear among children.

Health, Homelessness and Hunger

TX Gov. RIck Perry (R) has reiterated his opposition to participating in Medicaid expansion.

India’s Supreme Court “has rejected drugmaker Novartis AG’s attempt to patent a new version of a cancer drug”.  Result:  “poor patients around the world will get continued access to cheap versions of lifesaving medicines.”

The War on Women

❖ UN reports:  Denial of reproductive health services, including abortion,  is discriminatory, and can cause “tremendous and lasting physical and emotional suffering” for women.   Is “denial by the state of the right to safely terminate an unwanted pregnancy ” torture?

❖ There’s now no statute of limitations on “rape and aggravated sodomy” in KS.

In Rio de Janeiro: a foreign tourist was beaten and repeatedly raped while her male companion was beaten badly and handcuffed in a mini-bus.  Two men, including the bus driver, have been arrested.

❖ Huzzah!  Huzzah!  Women in Saudi Arabia still can’t drive cars, but they can now ride bicycles.  So long as accompanied by a male guardian or relative, of course.

Hamas has struck a blow for freedom by banning mixed-sex schools “for all children over the age of nine.”

Planet Earth News

That Exxon-Mobil oil sands underground pipeline rupture in Mayflower, AR started out seemingly small enough but has now been declared “major”.  Update:  Mayflower’s website gives a phone number to call about the mess.  Dial it and you get sent “straight to an Exxon operations center in Fairfax, Virginia” and other interesting details.

USSC “Justices reject challenge [by the American Petroleum Institute, etal.] to EPA air pollution rule.”

42% of Canadians (in Feb 2012) were opposed to extraction of oil from tar sands, for several major reasons.  Most alarming to them was “the way the tar sands industry is undermining Canadian democracy.”

Mixed Bag

❖ “German flea circus hit by freeze“.

Break Time

April Fool