Greetings!

International Developments

❖ “Six Americans killed in Afghanistan as top US general [Martin Dempsey] arrives.”  Profile of one of the six who was killed.  Update:  “Up to 12 civilians–10 children and two women–[were reported] killed in a Nato air strike in eastern Afghanistan.”

CIA drones over Pakistan: the origins.  Pakistan wanted to kill Nek Muhammed, a Taliban ally considered an enemy of the state by the government.  The CIA agreed to do the deed (in June 2004)–in exchange for access to airspace for drone use.

One suit filed against Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef has been dropped.  This controversy directs focus on “Egypt’s post-revolutionary political train wreck”. 

❖ A former Catholic priest, now the Ethics and Integrity Minister of Uganda, is outlawing “any indecent dressing including miniskirts”, among other things he finds exciting troubling.

50 former Auschwitz guards, now in or near their 90s, are being investigated for “complicity in murder”.

UK’s Chilcot Inquiry has heretofore secret evidence “that former prime minister Tony Blair was told that Iraq had, at most, only a trivial amount of [WMDs] and that Libya was . . . a far greater threat.”

International Finance

❖ Much contention at the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.  E.g., what to include as ”trade barriers”:   New Zealand’s “popular health programs”, Australia’s “law to prevent the offshoring of consumers’ private health data”, even Canada’s requirements for milk in cheese?  The TPP: a dazzling corporate Christmas tree.

Negotiating with the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund was so intense that the normally mild-mannered Greek Finance Minister “lashed out”.  The Greek Prime Minister has intervened.

“Portugal bail out blown off course” after the Constitutional Court ruled that public sector pay and state pension cuts were unconstitutional (among a few other things).  In response, the Prime Minister “promised a further squeeze on government spending” in social security, health and education.  “We will not increase taxes.”

Ontario’s government is pursuing austerity, whether it’s needed or not.

Money Matters USA

Some studies in the restaurant sector indicate the cost of a meal might increase by .01 if the minimum wage were increased.  Scaring people about product cost increases obscures the more important issue:  What wage is needed to sustain families?

Most “of all the wealth created over two generations has gone to those at the very top of the income pyramid . . ., markedly accelerated since the financial crisis hit in 2008 . . . [during which time] the real net worth of 90% of Americans has declined by 25%.”

10 Iraq War contractors were awarded 52% of the funds.  Top of the list: Halliburton.

❖ In addition to the 142 military members it’s already paying, Bank of America will now pay $36.8 million to 300+ more military members for improper foreclosures.

Politics USA

President Obama said his crappy budget proposal (SS chained-CPI and increased costs for 80% of the Medicare beneficiaries) was not his “ideal plan”.  Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Obama’s budget “is a good-faith effort and a step toward a ‘grand bargain’.”

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) chairs the Senate’s Finance Committee.  At least 28 of Baucus’ former aides went to work for lobbying firms serving corporate interests.  The stage is now set for Congress’ upcoming efforts to overhaul the US tax code.

White lab coats on parade in Washington, DC tomorrow as “Thousands of prominent cancer and other medical researchers” rally in protest of cuts in federal funding for research.

Former CIA Director, General David Petraeus is being visited by the FBI.  They’re checking out what classified documents his, uh, friend Paula Broadwell might have received or stored during their, uh, friendship.

A Newt Gringrich (R) campaign worker has “pleaded guilty to felony counts of fraud and perjury”.

MO’s legislators “advanced two bills this week . . . [outlawing] the government use of drones . . . and the implementation of Agenda 21″.

MO state house representative Paul Fitzwater (R), on dependency on public programs:  “When you go to the zoo, there’s a sign that says please don’t feed the animals. . . . There’s a reason, because they keep coming back.”  Perhaps voters will pay heed and stop feeding him votes.

Gun Corner

MD, CT and now OR, where “gun bills remain on track after marathon hearing in Legislature.”  Propelled by his state’s success, MD Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is urging national leaders to dig in and fight on the issue.  CT Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) says Wayne LaPierre of the NRA is like “the clowns at the circus.”

❖ A Republican in the AZ legislature wants his colleagues to wear bullet-proof vests–in that heat?

The War on Women

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York wants “White House documents [pertaining to] insurance coverage for birth control.”  The White House is fighting the subpoena.

❖ The women’s Red Brigade in Lucknow, India does what the police don’t:  stopping sexual harassment and predation.

Education Directions

❖ Ah-ha!  A reporter, pursuing claims that waiting lists for Chicago  charter schools are lengthy, found there’s no audit of those lists, so they grow and grow and grow.

Two west San Fernando Valley, CA “charter school operators were found guilty Friday of most charges after being accused of taking or misappropriating more than $200,000 in public funds”.

Planet Earth News

EPA’s photos from the Exxon Mayflower, AR pipeline rupture.

Departing Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar (D):  “I think the coziness with industry that was there when I came into the department is gone.”

❖ Breakthrough! “Solar Panels Are Finally Generating More Energy Than They Use”.

Q & A about the Keystone XL pipeline.

Latin America

Chiquita is suing “to block the release of documents related to payments the company made to terrorist groups in Colombia to protect its banana-growing interests.”  There’s a Colombian criminal investigation underway “related to the payments.” Dept of Justice head Eric Holder‘s Chiquita ties.

❖ Those Brazilian government corruption investigations are now focused on former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Mixed Bag

❖ “The Orgasm Gap”

Break Time

Aurora borealis